The large, central-Tokyo branches of major banks make big-ticket loans to the country’s blue-chip businesses, thereby playing a distinct role in steering the Japanese economy as a whole, but employees at suburban branches of the same banks, surrounded by smaller enterprises, factories, and residential neighborhoods, must compete fiercely for the plum financial opportunities in their territories. The ten linked stories in this book take place in the latter setting, portraying the complex fabric of relationships among the people who work there, with five of the tales fitting together into an extended mystery.
In the first story, the assistant branch manager puts relentless pressure on his subordinates in an effort to further his own advancement, while the second tells of a mid-level banker struggling with slumping sales figures. With vivid realism, the unfolding events cast light on how bank employees must work themselves to the bone in the bruising struggle to get ahead.
In the third tale, a million yen in cash is discovered to be missing, and a young female employee falls under suspicion. This plot ends with the culprit still unidentified, giving way to the fourth story, in which a male employee has a mental breakdown from the pressure to meet his sales goals. The fifth story then returns to the unsolved mystery of the missing money from story three, and the plot continues to thicken in subsequent stories. A middle-aged male who has taken it upon himself to ferret out the culprit disappears. It emerges that a younger male regarded as the branch’s rising star has been colluding with a client to set up dummy loans. When he is arrested, he confesses that his co-conspirator, now on the run, killed the man who disappeared, but the body is not found. Meanwhile, it also comes out that the man who disappeared was deeply in debt . . .
The diverse characters’ constant struggle to achieve their best and hold their heads high amid all the challenges of the workplace hits home with readers and draws their sympathy.