The majority of new graduates in Japan start their new job on April 1st. There was a ceremony at a hotel close to where the HQ was at. The company had separate offices for different business divisions, so we said good-bye to each other, promising we’d try to catch up as much as we could. Those assigned to work at the HQ walked together up the slope of cherry trees to our new office. Spring wind blew sakura that bloomed in full a couple of nights before, creating the carpet of pink petals on our path. The sun was out and warmed our faces, but the chilly breeze reminded us not to let our guard down.
There were four of us, all women, who were assigned to the HQ departments. Two were receptionists, one was a legal team staff. The office space had several “islands” of desks, as typical of Japanese companies. Two lines of desks face each other, and at the top of the island sat the division head overseeing the island.
Corporate Management Dept. occupied two sets of islands. I was introduced to the twenty or so colleagues, and I made a speech that I was excited to work with them all. They were mostly men in dark suits, in their 30s to 50s. Among them, I saw the face of one of the men who interviewed me and was initially planned to be my supervisor or colleague. I later learned he was also moved to the current department after the breakup of the International Business Dept. There were four women, younger than the men, and in colorful items of clothing.
I was directed to a corner desk of a separate small island. The man who sat at the boss position was Mr. Iwata, in his mid-30s, spectacled and glum. Next to him was a chubby-faced, prematurely aged, timid young man, Mr. Kamoi. Across from me was Miss. Yabe, a young, small-faced, large-eyed woman who was a few years senior to me but looked junior.
While Miss Yabe prepared my laptop, Mr. Kamoi sat with me to explain the team’s responsibilities. He told me we were an IR team. Investor Relations? I asked incredulously. I was told I was assigned to the corporate management department, but they hadn’t told me it was IR. I had believed I’d be engaged in international business, so the news came as a shock. If they were going to shuffle new graduates between departments, what was the point of interviews to match their needs to the skills and choice of the new graduates? Mr. Kamoi paid no attention to my despondence and kept talking about quarterly financial disclosure and the annual shareholders’ meeting. What could I do but hope for the best?