決 断 (日刊工業新聞社編、1999年出版) 3.”英語好き″が高じて脱サラ

前話: 決 断 (日刊工業新聞社編、1999年出版) 2. 一念発起しサラリーマン人生捨て起業家に
次話: 決 断 (日刊工業新聞社編、1999年出版) 4. 翻訳商売が節電虫を生む Translation business gives birth to Setsuden-mushi.

30歳前後で必ず脱サラする」。1965年、東洋紡に入社した釜本氏は早くも心に決めていた。会社では花形の研究者として、研究所で各種繊維の最終仕上げ加工を担当。社命で国内の大学院にも貿学し、研究者人生は順風満帆に見えた。

しかし、いずれ果たしたい夢があった。それは、高校時代からラジオにかじりついて夢中で聞いていた英語で身を立てることだった。当時はまだ海外旅行すら自由にできない時代。スピーカーから流れる海の向こうの見知らぬ世界に、すっかりとりこになっていた。

1975年、繊維不況が訪れる。会社が希望退職を募ると、進んで応じた。夢への第歩を踏み出すためである。すでに結婚し2人の子供ももうけていた釜本氏。「なぜ、辞めなくてはいけないのか…」。家族や両親は、猛反対した。安定した大企業のポストを未練なく捨てることを、周囲は理解できなかった。が、これはチャンスと思った。割り増しの退職金も、もらえる。無鉄砲だったが、不安は全くなかった」(釜本氏)。人社時の日標をこの時初めて家族に打ち明け、迷うことなく米国に留学。1977年、帰国と同時に、まずは英語塾を開業。念願の独立を果たす。この時、ちょうど30歳になっていた。

何よりも英語には自信があった。腕前は国連英検A級、TOEIC835点と折り紙付き。東洋紡時代から、原書で技術文献を読みこなし英文レポートも作成。英語力は周囲から一日置かれていた。サラリーマンのころからしっかり磨きをかけていたのである。

塾は「明日のバン代」(釜本氏)を稼ぐためでもあった。始めの年はクラスに生徒10人も集まらず苦労したが、3年目から順調に増え出す。教育にやり甲斐も党えた。生徒の中からは後に、大企業の海外駐在員や日銀マンも育った。1979年には企業を相手に技術分野の翻訳・通訳業を開始。塾の評判が広がったことから顧客は順調に拡大した。この間、国際ビジネスのコンサルタントや中国で繊維工場の技術指導も手掛けた。1987年には文部省認定の英検面接委員も委嘱された。

無我夢中だったが、英語の能力と会社員時代の経験をビジネスに十分発揮。経営は次第に安定していった。

I love English so much that I decided to quit my job.

"I will definitely leave the company when I am around 30 years old.” When he joined Toyobo in 1965, Mr. Kamamoto had already made up his mind. As a researcher, he was in charge of the final processing of various fibers at the company's research laboratory. He also studied at a graduate school in Japan on company orders, and his life as a researcher seemed to be smooth sailing.

However, he had a dream that he wanted to fulfill eventually. That dream was to make a career in English, which he had been listening to on the radio since his high school days. At that time, people were not even allowed to travel abroad freely. He was completely fascinated by the strange world beyond the sea that came through the speakers.

In 1975, the recession hit the textile industry. When the company asked for voluntary retirement, he gladly accepted it. He wanted to take the first step toward his dream. Mr. Kamamoto was already married and had two children. "Why should you quit?” His family and parents were fiercely opposed. The people around him could not understand why he would abandon his stable post at a large company without any regrets. “However, I saw this as an opportunity. I could get extra retirement benefits. I was reckless, but I had no worries at all," said Mr. Kamamoto. It was at this time that he first told his family about his daily motto at the time of joining the company, and without hesitation, he went to the United States to study. In 1977, upon his return to Japan, he opened an English cram school. He achieved his dream of becoming independent. At this time, he was just 30 years old.

Above all, he was confident in his English. His skills were well established, with a grade A United Nations English Proficiency Test and a score of 835 on the TOEIC. Since his days at TOYOBO, he had been reading technical books and magazines in the original and writing reports in English. His English ability was highly regarded by others. He had been improving his English skills since he was a salaried worker.

The cram school was also a way for him to earn "tomorrow's van fare" (according to Mr. Kamamoto). In the first year, he had a hard time attracting even ten students to his classes, but from the third year, the number of students steadily increased. The education business became more worthwhile. Some of the students later became expatriates of major corporations and an employee of the Bank of Japan. In 1974, he began translating and interpreting for companies in the technical field. As the reputation of the school spread, the number of clients grew steadily. During this time, he also worked as a consultant for international business and provided technical guidance to a textile factory in China. In 1987, he was appointed as a member of the interview examiner for the English Proficiency Test authorized by the Ministry of Education.

Although he was selfless, he was able to make good use of his English ability and his experience as a company employee in his new business and the business gradually stabilized.

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決 断 (日刊工業新聞社編、1999年出版) 4. 翻訳商売が節電虫を生む Translation business gives birth to Setsuden-mushi.

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