Crisis of loyalty
When my relocation was announced a couple of months before my move, the men started to warn me of becoming “acchi no hito” – “a person on the other side.” They grumbled that once they relocated overseas, Japanese ex-pats tended to end up working in the interest of the locals rather than that of the headquarters. It was an act of treachery, and such a person was deemed incompetent.
I had liaised between Europe and Japan in the past few years, and that was what I made myself known for. Before I was in the picture, Mr. N and the men communicated very poorly whenever there were new agendas to work on. For example, the men needed a higher group revenue projection to meet the target. However, Mr. N wouldn’t agree to increase his number, so the men had to stretch the target of other territories. The results turned out that Europe surpassed the target by a significant margin, and the rest of the world fell short. The US even had to pay a good deal of cash to retailers afterward because of the excess inventory. The men were so angry that they wrote a fuming email to Mr. N, who said nonchalantly, “we achieved the group target, didn’t we?” The following year, I successfully negotiated with Mr. N to take a fair share of the target increase. It satisfied the men, and I received praise.
When I arrived in the new office and stood before Mr. N, I felt great pain. I was standing there because he had given me opportunities to succeed among the men. But, while I wished for mentorship from Mr. N, I was crying inside, wishing to be back home among the men, who eventually showed me respect as a colleague. I feared what Mr. N might do to me next, and it made me behave a little awkward around him, avoiding eye contact or conversation. Fortunately, I had many other concerns to do with new life to distract me for a while.
But the men in HQ were relentless. They kept throwing me questions and requests they had accumulated until I arrived in Europe. I didn’t want them to think I had already become “acchi no hito,” and tried to solve issues as much as I could, the best as I could. Naturally, this made Mr. N and my new colleagues unhappy. Out of frustration, I even started a row with the accounting department. It was uncalled for, and I was ashamed of myself. I was useless to both parties, and my competence was in doubt. “What am I here for?”
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