In Japanese media the word mercenary, at least by name, does not appear. Lately as contractors they call themselves private military companies to bypass international treaties.
I found employment in one of these companies because I was unemployed and didn’t want to become a NEET again.
That’s right, I was a NEET once. I don’t want to mention it, but it’s an undeniable fact that I was.
NEET – Not in education, employment or training young man. Specifically I was simply a young unemployed, what’s more without money for further education.
Of course at the start I didn’t want such life. Young people don’t plan to become NEETs from the beginning. They just become them. In my case, after finishing high-school I wasn’t ready to seek employment in some company and my family didn’t have money to send me to university. That’s why I went to a telecommunications post-secondary school.
I was interested in LN, games and manga. When it comes to LN, I didn’t have the writing talent for light novels nor the skills to draw manga, so by the process of elimination I was left with making games. That’s why I went to a vocational school.
From today’s perspective that was probably doomed to fail from the start. Making a half-assed choice rather doesn’t give good results, but I didn’t think about it at that time. I simply helplessly choose in life what came to my head.
Nonetheless I have to admit I was trying in this school. I was studying, actually I was mainly tinkering with PC bought by my parents. Learning in school and tinkering with my PC were the same to me, so in reality my grades were above average.
And that’s how a year passed in the blink of an eye and then I started to look for a job. Not because I wanted to, rather because everyone was looking, so I started too.
Only after I started looking for work did I realize that there is a crisis in the game industry. There was no place for me with my results. I could go to some other industry, but that’s not why I learned all that. I insisted on the gaming industry and wanted no other. In the end, when as a twenty-year old I graduated, I didn’t have a set life path yet.
And that’s how I became a NEET.
Recalling that period, sensing the coming crisis I think it would have been better to work then. But I couldn’t work during spring break. With that feeling I spent the first day, and then second. When I realized, it came out that I have taken extended 2 year-long holidays.
Life of a NEET and holidays are similar to each other. Looking back at that time I’m not saying that it wasn’t pleasant, but being a NEET was hard.
I feel bad about it, but I have a strong feeling that I left everyone somewhere behind. I realized this when we went drinking with our class. Though I could speak only about LN, manga and games, the rest was different. They talked without bigger interest about work, politics, senpais they didn’t like, overtime, their partners or rumors about who is getting married.
When I asked if they like to talk about it they always replied laughing. “Not really, but you know…”
Well that was my feeling of leaving everyone behind. I considered everyone strange and although I myself only talked about LN, manga and games, I didn’t have the gall to feel like a winner. Still, years after graduating verified that I’m a loser. Soon after I started to seriously look for a job it came to me.
I tried to live not being in anyone’s way and depending on the situation I lived thanks to the goodwill of my parents and classmates. Without money it was indeed hard, but I managed somehow. That was not the problem. I somehow realized that even if I worked nothing will change. I wasn’t the type of NEET that was afraid to go out to people. If it’s bad anyway, I didn’t want to additionally disappoint my parents. That was the reason I looked for work. There wasn’t particularly any other.
And that’s how I found work in a printing house dealing with small projects. I had other ambitions, but during my time NEETing my chances in the gaming industry got even smaller. There was no place in there for people like me.
Already from the first day as a NEET it was to be expected, but I didn’t do anything about it. Only recently I became aware of how badly I failed thinking that someday, maybe the situation will improve itself. I was a complete deadbeat. The result of this laziness was my quite delayed entry into society. And this entrance was a small company in which I was mainly responsible for making leaflets.
Since I started working there, I always made two hours of overtime. It was a black company, but I comforted myself that it’s better than physical work. Income was paltry, but still better than none. Anyway from the start I didn’t have any special expectations and a plus was that I had work two stations from home.
This doesn’t mean I was satisfied. Constant demands of my boss and clients for corrections were taking their toll on me. At the start I was trying to explain that that’s how it was supposed to be done, but I always received an answer with disdainful smile: “You have a very good memory but your skills…”
Despite that I didn’t stop working there. It’s hard to admit, but they weren’t really wrong. I don’t have a sense for making leaflets. When it comes to memory they were not quite right either, though if I saw some leaflet I could mostly remember its pattern and layout.
Since I had a pile of work, I was taking care of those designs daily. It’s not like I didn’t have a sense, it’s just that I could only design something I saw somewhere. Maybe if I spent more time and took care of it I could obtain my own style, but I didn’t do it. I was really lazy. I was aware of that the whole time and just counted that someday everything will work out by itself, that maybe that nasty boss will someday disappear. Everyday with this belief I worked further.
In the meantime before the boss disappeared, three years after I started working, the company went bankrupt. New government still claimed that economy is in good condition, but it was completely unnoticeable.
For me bankruptcy was the best sign of a crisis. It seemed to me that being a NEET was my destiny, on the other hand thought about returning to that state irritated me.
Despite everything, I have enthusiasm in me. I already had thirty years. I didn’t read as many LN and thought more often about finding a wife than porn or characters from manga. I thought it was already that time.
So once again I looked for work. At that time I wasn’t a loafer anymore. Waiting for everything to resolve itself didn’t bring anything good so far. I was already too old, as a thirty-year-old it was high time to straighten myself.
It was hard to find a job, but I was expecting that. Both my age, economic situation and private and social life weren’t too colorful.
Terms of employment were getting worse anyway. The problem was not the falling, but to what degree they will fall. That’s when my attention was glued to the advertisement of a private military company, present in the sponsor frame of the search engine.
At the start I clicked it from pure curiosity, while reading I added it to my bookmarks though. That was it.
They wrote that they are tripling the salary, that yearly pay is 6,000,000 yen, additionally it wasn’t a physical job and there was no experience needed. Requirements were to not have finished 30 years and computer knowledge. The secret of that rise was the risk. The Danger of the loss of life. The catch was to take that risk. Naturally in that case remuneration was high. Salary amount probably accounted for the fact that joining a foreign army was not received well in this country.
I started checking on the Internet the location and details of the job and opinions about the company. I treated it quite seriously, after all my life was at stake. It seemed to me like a perfect offer.
The risk of death in modern wars was low. More of a problem was the risk of mental disorder induced by excessive stress. Even today with all the technological advancements it’s quite common. It wasn’t so perfect at all.
From today’s perspective taking into account the exposure of life and mental health, the pay was low. It came out about the same in relation to annual income from working whole life and early retirement.
Accepting the terms presented in the information about the job offer, I applied. I didn’t wish for death, but I didn’t really care about my life either. There weren’t any tests or anything else, so the first thing I did was to renovate the room with a small amount of money from the contract. I bought LN, computer and some figurines and arranged for the maintenance of my room while I will be gone.
If I died, the rent payment will be halted and the contract will expire automatically. If I live, I will have some savings. Working a few years, I could get employed in a security company. It didn’t sit well with me, but I would take any coming opportunity.
I assumed that I won’t come home for some time, but in life it never goes the way we assume.
How big was my disappointment, when from the notice it turned out that my new workplace not only was in the same country, but even in the same city in an office building in Shinagawa. I have a feeling that along with the disappointment I lost my energy. As a matter of fact I think it means the same thing.
In any case with this feeling I went to the site. Probably they saved up on electricity, because the conference room was quite dark. In this secluded atmosphere, along with me a number of people was gathered.
Aside from me everyone looked nervous. I realized that ironically till yesterday I was worrying like stupid. Now probably the interview will start.
To not let stress return I looked around. People around twenty, thirty and even forty-year old. Everyone looked like they were in a similar situation to mine. They found themselves here without any means to live, claiming unemployed benefits, without any motivation.
I felt sorry for them, but I didn’t say anything, because they would not be happy that someone like them pitied them.
In the end some man came. He looked like a white American or European, maybe English or French, but I could not tell from his looks. He had a powerful physique but he was shaking. Despite that, probably to look more serious, he had sunglasses on him. Additionally to that he had a white shirt and a tie. So plain that I wouldn’t think he was someone from a military company.
“Welcome everyone to our company. I am Andrew.”
Then it’s like he hesitated, so I started wondering whether I should respond using simple language, but then Andrew spoke.
“ I know that each of you signed a contract, but you can cancel them during the next seven days.”
After he looked around over everyone gathered he continued.
“This is a really heavy work, not counting those seven days, maybe during the term of the contract somewhere far in a foreign country suddenly someone will want to quit. In that case though it would be a problem not only for us, but for you too. To avoid that our company will conduct a simple test. It’s compulsory, but the result is not binding. You can place a request to annul the contract as well as continue working in our company even if someone doesn’t do well on the test.”
Here Andrew made a wry smile.
“Nonetheless with all my heart I advise to cancel the contract in that case. Because of the nature of missions that you would be performing, you must leave behind national safety, democracy or freedom. Our company is not interested in religion or political views. I ask you to do the same. What you will be doing is work and only work.”
He said with something resembling compassion. From everyone present here, only he weren’t in such a poor position and only from his side could come compassion.
Andrew spoke further.
“Work, especially in Japan, is treated too seriously. It’s not easy for me to say, but if someone cares that much it’s better for him use that energy to look for work elsewhere. This way he will undoubtedly be happier.”
A smile appeared on Andrew’s face.
“Please don’t forget about that. Then let’s begin the test.”
They told everyone to stand before a big blue button. From the corner of my eye I saw that from the hastily set up row of buttons extend a cable to the neighboring room.
“In the next room there is a computer, which is in turn connected via Internet to rifles in a place for conducting death sentences in some country. If you press the button – boom. With 100% certainty you can kill someone from a distance.”
Said Andrew calmly. Through the sunglasses I couldn’t read his expression.
“This test consist of pressing that button.”
Few voices immediately resounded.
“Wait a moment!”
“Alright, for you the test has ended.” Said Andrew and then took them to their seats.
I wondered when you can start. There was no point in dragging it, so I immediately asked if I already can. Receiving permission I pressed the button using my thumb. Just that and I could return to my seat.
I saw that many still hesitated, many were dumbfounded and others could not believe it, asking Andrew if it’s for real. After I sat down I thought that there is no way it was serious, besides surely they couldn’t conduct this test before signing a contract due to confidentiality agreement. Quite well conceived.
“You have finished fast. You must have nerves of steel. Or maybe you are just stupid?” Some awfully fast talking and somewhat erratic guy from the back approached me. He was one of those that pressed the button after me.
First half, that at the beginning raised their voice already started to leave. I doubt I will meet them again. Not that I don’t like meeting people, but not everyone suits me. This crank from the back was one of those that don’t.
Irritated I was silent, and he went on.
“Although as a rehearsal it was a great exercise. This time it’s probably really not seriously, but they want to show us what’s waiting for us. Sooner or later there will come a time to press the real button. The point is to realize that.”
That’s obvious. I thought I would retort him but he was already excited enough so I managed to hold back. Maybe he had mental disorders. Taking that into account I think I could understand how he feels. I decided to stay silent. Maybe he was just annoying. Or maybe both. In any case the test probably gave results that the company expected. I couldn’t say what I would do, when the time comes for real action.
It seems to me that from that time I stopped thinking about it entirely. Anyway the test has ended.
At home I ate a hot cup of yakisoba.
They said I have a week of free time, certainly to think this through and take care of your business. I myself did not need that time. It’s not that I was determined, it’s just that I had nothing better to do. I didn’t especially think about the meaning of the blue button either. Work is not pleasant, but not so much as being a NEET. Moreover I have my age.
Although Andrew said that if someone doesn’t like it he can search for a better job for himself, but in my case there was no choice. Probably something would have come out of it, if during this week I would have desperately looked for a job other than pushing a blue button, but I did nothing. I was already tired from looking for work. That’s how I was after all.
That day it even hit me that I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, but when I remembered that there were news in TV and Internet about murders and other cruelties daily that didn’t really move me, I calmed down.
I wonder if I could do it since it doesn’t move me. There is nothing in me that I wouldn’t know about. I know myself, that’s why I could calm down and masturbate.
After a week I officially established the contract and left Tokyo.
This annoying guy that approached me then didn’t appear.
Before leaving Tokyo, first of course I went to a private airport. I received a ticket with a plane change in Central Asia. By the way it was in the economy class. I wasn’t informed yet exactly in which country.
I took my luggage and went to the office building in Shinagawa where the test was conducted and took the plane ticket. The office like always had dimmed lightning. Probably very few could guess that it was a private military company.
When I came to the office I met Andrew again. This time he was not wearing sunglasses. His eyes looked smarter than I thought. It’s curious after all why he was wearing sunglasses in a dark room.
“I knew you would come. You have the disposition.” He said while handing me the ticket. I did not think about a suitable answer. Should I be happy or say that he isn’t right. I wasn’t interested.
The whole time I was thinking about those sunglasses.
“Why don’t you have sunglasses today?” I asked about what occupied my mind.
He opened his eyes wide, then narrowed them and said while laughing.
“Eyes are a treasury of information. I don’t want someone to read me using them.”
I thanked him for the answer and took the ticket.
Getting on the bus to the airport Andrew said to me.
“Have a nice job”
I never had a nice job, I doubt this one will be. I replied in my thoughts.
Using quick steps I boarded the bus and managed to take a seat at the very end.
Supporting my head on the window I reflected, whether this company by chance isn’t looking for people who don’t care.
^ 1. There can’t possibly be someone here that doesn’t know what it stands for…. can there? (Light novel).
^ 2. Black company is a company that exploits their employees.
^ 3. Around 51k USD or 44k EUR as of January 2015.
^ 4. A type of noodles eaten in Japan, usually with some additional ingredients or sauce.