“Tightrope walking finance – A leaving Toji”

A few days before closing the beer restaurant, I just thought to myself “There is nothing more I can do about it”. My wife and I made a long-term financial plan to see if we could survive as a business, filling the floor of our 10-tatami room with bills. Calculations showed that if we closed the place right now, we could maybe make it. However, there was a 40-million-yen debt that was out of our control. Without doing something about this debt, our company would not survive. We closed the place at the end of May 1995, the closing was as spectacular as the opening. Television and newspapers covered the event. Naturally, all loans from financial institutions were stopped, and companies that had accounts receivable from us kept asking us when we would pay them back. The local beer restaurant had created a loss of 190-million-yen, after spending 240-million-yen. The difference of 50-million-yen was paid with 30 million yen which meant three months of sales and 20 million yen that I regained by suing the consultant in a civil suit. At the time, our annual sales were about 200 million yen, so we had our backs against the wall.

Cash flow was just barely available. There have been a number of times when I had to transfer money by 3:00 PM or it would have been recognized as non-payment. Every day was a tightrope walk for me. At first, it frightened me, but at some point, I decided that if I could not make it I would just hang myself. My wife seemed to have noticed it somehow, she once told me that it was never a good idea to die. Anyway, I had to do something about the 40-million-yen debt. When I went to borrow some money, I would get cursed at. It was pathetic. I then remembered that my life insurance policy would pay out 40-million-yen for death. So often times I would walk down the street, see a tree, and wonder if I would get 40 million yen if I hung myself to it. I would wonder about how to go away and make it look like a car accident. Eventually, I managed to borrow some money from the government, but in that kind of situation, you think more about the survival of your company than your own life.

I really didn't have any money for about a year. I was always calculating how much money I had in my pocket. My oldest son was attending Waseda University in Tokyo and would ask me for money for textbooks, but I didn't have any to send him. I could see the balance on his credit card, I knew it had been in the negative for about a week. But I just couldn't send him any. It really was pathetic.

Then, one day, I received a phone call from our toji, saying that he was not going to come over and work for us anymore. It seems there were rumors that our company had gone bankrupt. And just like that, my Toji had left me.

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