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  • Robert Day

THERE’LL BE PLENTY OF TIME!

What have I done! These words rang in my ears for the next few days. When I visited my parents the next day to give them the news that I was going to live in Japan, Dad expressed some concerns about the so-called employment contract. Show me where you signed, he said. There’s no signature mate, this is it, I said as I pointed to Mr Kondo’s scribbles. That’s not a contract he said. I explained to him that I’d unwittingly (at least that’s the way I saw it) agreed to take a job working in Japan and that was that. The deal was done. I couldn’t see any way out that wouldn’t bring great shame upon me and all people involved. What have you done? He said. Indeed! After overcoming the initial shock of “accidentally” agreeing to a 12-month contract to work in an architect’s office in Japan, I spent the next few days in and out of David’s office collecting stream of faxes that had been sent from Mr Kondo.

A Work Visa for Japan was supposed to take 3-4 months. Mr Kondo was keen for me to get to Japan as soon as possible. I had never been out of the country before so firstly I had to get a passport. A fast-track passport application was supposed to take about two weeks but only took a few days. Kondo-san then applied for my Work Visa. That was supposed to take several months. After a couple of weeks, I received a call from David telling me to drop around to his office again. Another fax had arrived. My work visa had been approved in seemingly record time. Shortly after, another fax came announcing that Mr Kondo would be arriving in Australia in coming days and he wanted me to travel with him back to Japan. In a time period of around 5 or 6 weeks, I’d gone from working in a local architecture office to boarding a plane for a 12-month stint in Japan.

What was happening? This isn’t right! There was supposed to be plenty of time to do all the stuff that I need to do, learn some Japanese was one of them. No time to familiarise myself with Japanese food either. This was going to be a baptism of fire. So on October 20, 1990, I boarded a plane bound for Tokyo with Mr Kondo. This was actually happening. I was about to be an expat. A week earlier I didn't even know what that was.


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