Episode 16: An invitation from hell
Iki and Hyodo decide to pull out from Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium and partner with US-based Orion Oil Company in the international bid for Iran’s Sarvestan oil field. Daimon dispatches Satoi to an affiliated company in a decision made in response to Iki’s request. In addition, Iki visits Tabuchi with Daimon, and asks him to support Kinki Corporation. This is to counter the sabotage by Kaizuka and Samejima, who are in partnership with politicians that have oil concessions.
However, at that moment, articles criticising Kinki Corporation for forming an alliance with Orion Oil Company and participating in the international bid are published in the newspapers. They call the break away from the consortium a disregard of national interests. In response, Kaizuka issues a comment expressing deep regret that Kinki Corporation is trying to monopolise proceeds with its actions.
Meanwhile, Hyodo bases himself at Kinki Corporation’s Tehran office and continues to gather information on the King of Iran, who has the power to decide the international bid, and the people around him. Hyodo has the most important mission of initiating contact with the aides who have influence on the King’s decision and obtaining information on the bidding price of each country.
Amid the mounting criticism of Kinki Corporation, the company receives one phone call after another from its clients telling the company that they will drop future dealings if it partners with Orion Oil Company. Iki acknowledges the fact that Kinki Corporation is tendering a bid with Orion Oil Company, but instructs each unit within the company to explain to clients that this decision serves as an outlet in the event Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium cannot bid.
At that moment, Koide, a former Kinki Corporation employee, appears in front of Iki. Koide exaggeratedly says he is worried about Iki and tells him that there is a person waiting to mediate Kinki Corporation’s return to Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium. That person is Hayashida Masamichi, who is a big corporate racketeer.
Visiting Hayashida’s mansion, Iki explains that Kinki Corporation had partnered with Orion Oil Company in consideration of national interests. In response to that, Hayashida tells Iki that he wold like to help Kinki Corporation return to the consortium because Prime Minister Sahashi is his friend. However, Iki does not accept the offer.
The pressure on Kinki Corporation mounts further as the government agencies concerned apply pressure in a variety of ways – withholding the approval of syndicate loans, suspecting that pork imported by Kinki Corporation had violated related tax laws and revoking the permit for a Manila fertiliser factory. There are even anonymous documents being circulated about Iki’s close relationship with the Soviet Union.
Satoi comes to Daimon’s office to give his last greetings. Declaring that the series of developments against Kinki Corporation had been brought on by Iki’s recklessness, Satoi warns Daimon that Iki will depose him, and then he leaves Kinki Corporation.
Iki heads for Kyoto. Lee Shik Yuen, the Chairman of the Korean company, Kosei Corporation, had called to ask if Iki would like to meet because he is in Kyoto.
Before meeting Lee, Iki visits Chisato’s brother, Seiki, at Mt Hiei. Iki, who experiences peace in this quiet atmosphere for the first time in a long while, tells Seiki that he wishes to live in such a world but he has no choice but to live on in the corrupted world. Seiki talks to Iki about the Lotus Sutra. “Just like the lotus can produce beautiful flowers even though it is in the mud, a person can lead an honest life without being tainted by the corrupted world that he lives in,” he says.
That night, Iki has dinner with Lee. Lee, who knows that Iki has received a bashing over the international bid, conveys some information to him. It is that a lone doctor seems to have the most influence on the King of Iran. Lee says that when he had been the ambassador to the United States, he had seen a man close like a shadow beside the King of Iran. Furthermore, that man never appears at the average party even though he is always present on important occasions.
After parting with Lee, Iki visits Chisato’s home. He says that he had met Seiki, and suggests that they have a meal together with Naoko’s family once she has settled down in her job.
Returning to Tokyo, Iki is asked for an interview by Tawara. Tawara did not participate in the articles that bashed Kinki Corporation, but is in pursuit of Iki’s true intention. Iki explains that Kinki Corporation will serve as an outlet in the event Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium loses the bid in this tender. Tawara asks what he will do if Kinki and Orion Oil Company come in first in the bid and Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium comes in second. Iki replies that he will step aside for the consortium.
Before long, the identity of the man that Lee had mentioned, is determined to be Dr Forzy. Iki, who learns from Hyodo’s information that Dr Forzy is also trusted by the former Queen of Iran, recalls Beniko’s words. Beniko had told him that she had been asked about Kinki Corporation by her friend, the former queen of Iran.
Knowing that Beniko is in Japan, Iki meets her at Club Le Bois. He asks her to make a request to the former queen of Iran to be the intermediary for Kinki Corporation and Dr Forzy. Beniko agrees, and tells him that before that, she would like Kinki Corporation’s overseas branch office to assist a Swiss tourism business in which the former queen is an investor.
At the same moment, Samejima obtains each company’s estimated bid prices for the Sarvestan oil field from Kamio, the managing director of Goryo Corporation. West Germany’s Deminex Corporation is in first place, Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium is in second, and Kinki-Orion is in third. Consideration has been given not just to the highest bid price but also to economic assistance to Iran. Samejima tells Kamio that he wishes to meet Prime Minister Sahashi to secure a win in the tender for the Sarvestan oil field. It is to send the leaders of major corporations to Iran on a trade mission.
Several days later, Hyodo joins Beniko in Beirut and receives a handwritten letter for Dr Forzy from the former queen. According to Beniko, Dr Forzy had just left the court on Tuesday night and is at home. Hearing that, Hyodo immediately heads for Tehran and visits Dr Forzy’s house.
Hyodo shows the letter to the butler who appears, and says he wishes to meet Dr Forzy. However, he is told that Forzy will not meet anyone. Unable to let it go, Hyodo shouts out his thoughts on oil development so that he can be heard within the house.
Ten days remain before the submission of the bids. News that Japan Oil Corporation’s consortium has sent a trade mission also reaches Kinki Corporation’s Tehran office. Hyodo cannot hide his impatience. Then, he receives an envelope from Orion Oil Company. However, there is only one ticket with a designated seat for a movie inside the envelope. Sensing something upon seeing that, Hyodo heads to the cinema.
When Hyodo takes the designated seat, a seller approaches, and he has not choice but to buy sunflower seeds that come in a bag made from folded newspaper. Before long, the movie starts. Then, the voice of a man suddenly speaks behind him, “Do you dislike sunflower seeds?” It is Dr Forzy’s butler. The butler says Hyodo can meet Dr Forzy but he has a condition, and points at the sunflower seeds in Hyodo’s hand.
Hyodo hurriedly returns to Japan and tells Iki that Dr Forzy will meet him. Dr Forzy’s stipulated condition is to take Iki, who is the head of the oil development project, to Moscow. The itinerary for the King of Iran’s Moscow visit had been printed on the sheet of newspaper that had contained the sunflower seeds. However, Iki’s expression stiffens when he hears the word ‘Moscow’. The nightmare of the detention in Siberia comes back to his mind.
Iki says that he will not go to Moscow and tells Hyodo to think of some other way. Hyodo does not accept Iki’s behaviour, and snarls that the national interest which Iki habitually speaks of is really opportunism. An infuriated Iki shouts, asking if he understands the feelings of a person who had been branded with a prisoner’s number and subjected to hard labour at penal colony in the far north.
Iki spends the night brooding, and the next morning, he visits Tanigawa. Iki tells Tanigawa that he is supposed to go to Moscow. Tanigawa says that if he believes it is for the good of Japan, he should persevere, no matter what difficulties there may be. Continuing on, Tanigawa anticipates that even if a visa is issued to Iki, he will be monitored because he had been a detainee in Siberia, and advises him to be careful.
Returning home, Iki also tells Naoko that he will be going to Moscow. Naoko vehemently opposes, asking what she will do if something happens to him. Iki soothes Naoko, and reminds her not to tell her husband, Tomoatsu, about Moscow.
While Samejima brings a trade mission to Iran for a visit, Iki and Hyodo set out on a journey to Moscow …
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