Ambition and the Foreign Girl
Today’s UN Training -- Use 'Diplomacy' to reach desired outcomes
How does one become a leader of nations?
Some would argue that the people who end up in that spot had the great fortune of being born into obscene wealth, followed by meeting the right people at the right times, building connections and eventually falling effortlessly into positions of authority. Others, like third year high school student Akihiro Tani, would surely insist that hard work and a distinct knowledge of geopolitics is the only authentic way to that mountain top.
He would tell you that there are individual rungs of a societal ladder that must be climbed in order to overcome the advantages of others around you.
The first rung on that ladder is what he calls ‘diplomacy’.
That’s right, diplomacy --- the art of dealing with people in a sensible and tactful way.
However, our resident high schooler has a very skewed idea of what ‘diplomacy’ actually means, and is far from sensible when attempting what one would call ‘tact’.
Leaders of Nations are politicians after all, and ‘diplomacy’ is deployed in many different ways to achieve the desired result both foreign and domestic.
Akihiro Tani operates under these very murky guidelines that he’s created for himself.
Finding himself in an office and sitting face to face with the Principal of his high school, the tricks of his trade are put to work…
“So you see, in order for me to achieve my goals, I am going to need your stamp of approval to start this club.” Tani says, postured in his chair with his fingers intertwined on the desk in front of him.
The weathered face of the elderly principal looks soft and welcoming when he replies,
“I admire your ambition, we don’t see such lofty dreams presented to us very often. You really think a ‘Languages’ club would be your path to that mountain top?”
“It’s part of the process. Over this most recent break, I’ve been in contact with Tokyo International University and expressed my desire to become the head of the Model United Nations Club upon graduation. It was made clear to me that my participation in a cultures club in high school is crucial for my mere acceptance into their group. If I can hone my skills of multilingualism and teach my fellow students the wonders of Language in the process, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
The old man looks impressed by the student’s confident declaration, but clears his throat as if wanting to dispel any evidence of it.
“I understand what you’re going for, Akihiro-kun, I really do, but we can’t just start clubs without going through the proper channels. You were supposed to submit your application form before the break. I can’t afford to be seen as giving you special treatment just because you are at the top of your class.”
Looking stern and resolute, the elderly Principal sits like a stone statue in his large leather office chair despite the soft expression on his face.
“Is the thought of how you’re seen by others really going to be what keeps you from contributing to the greater good?”
Tani asks that in a way implying that the answer should be obvious.
“I think your club really could have been a great addition to our school. But no one deserves to be treated differently from anyone else, even someone like you who can speak six languages. The fact is that there are rules set in place for all of you students to follow.”
“Hmmm.” Tani shoots a deprecating side glare across the desk. “So now you’re saying it’s not about your reputation, but about rules. Both of those excuses are an unacceptable reason to potentially alter the future of mankind.”
“Goodness me, Akihiro-kun, a young man’s ambition is one thing, a young man’s delusions of grandeur is another.”
The old man’s face remains as welcoming as it was since the start of their conversation, which seems to be intended to add to the insult of that response.
Electric signals travel in sparks between the two as though they were opposite ends of conflicting power lines.
“That’s rich coming from you, Principal Togashi. I was worried we weren’t going to see eye to eye on this…For your sake, I must humbly ask you to reconsider your position on the matter.”
“...For my sake?”
The statuesque Principal shuffles in his chair.
Tani’s piercing gaze through his glasses stares holes into the old man in front of him.
“I understand that you’re an alumni of TIU, class of 71 was it?”
A bead of unpleasant sweat slides down the Principal’s wrinkled forehead.
Tani can see that the information presented has struck a cord of anxiety, and he knows exactly why.
The Principal was a member of the Rengo Sekigun, a militant organization that operated in Japan in the early 70’s. Newly graduated students that were once involved in the University protests of 1969, continued acting upon their grievances in organized factions as young adults. Many of those factions that branched out from that student movement were linked to violence and criminal misbehavior.
The mild mannered and well respected Principal Togashi was associated with such a tumultuous time, not by simply being a student during the protests and aligning himself with their ideals, but by getting his hands dirty and participating in the destruction of buildings and police cars.
Despite his passion at the beginning, after a couple years of fruitless endeavors with a certain faction, he abandoned his once ambitious dreams of a more equitable world and proceeded down the straight and narrow path that led him to this point today.
The road to his position now most certainly wasn’t as simple and as linear as his paper trail would suggest, he even had to change his name after leaving the Rengo Sekigun to better help with employment opportunities.
Realizing that the student in front of him is hinting at knowing exactly what he was up to during the University Troubles is abrasively ringing the alarm bells between his ears.
“Y-Yeah, and what makes that information important to our topic of conversation?”
Tani frees his hands from each other and leans back in his chair, abandoning any semblance of formality.
“What a crazy time to be a student, eh?”
With his head tilted back, he looks down on the Principal like a bully would to an elementary school student he’s trying to intimidate into giving up their lunch money.
Sensing the old man in front of him shrinking, Tani’s lips rise like a villain.
“We all do things in our youth that we’re not particularly proud of, I'm sure you'd agree that the actions of a younger version of yourself shouldn’t be held against you once you’ve become an elder statesman.”
Those words are all the proof the Principal needs to send him into a complete panic.
Tani feeds off of it.
"The problem is, it never seems to work that way."
“L-Listen, Akihiro-kun, throughout my adult life I’ve worked really hard to become an upstanding citizen, I’ve devoted everything I have to educating the youth of our great nation to--”
“Upstanding citizen, you say?”
The interruption comes across like a guillotine through a condemned neck.
“Do me a favor, will you?”
“W-What is it?”
“Check your email.”
“Yeah, you’ll see that you have just received a message from AT@zmail.com, I would really appreciate it if you opened it up and let me know what you find.”
This must be it, the proof of the Principal’s criminal past. In this email is the evidence needed to discredit decades of distinguished work in the field of education. Despite knowing that a potential disaster awaits him upon click of a button, the Principal has still found himself compelled to turn on his desktop PC and check his email inbox.
Sure enough, the very email that Tani had mentioned had been sent at exactly 7:45am.
Looking up at the clock, he sees that it is 7:46.
This email had been automated to be sent specifically during the timeframe of their conversation and is a very calculated attempt to display Tani's complete control over the situation.
The train wreck of content that could potentially be hidden within the link in this email is both alluring and terrifying. The Principal wracks his brain wondering just what it could be.
Dredging up 50 year old evidence is difficult even for the seasoned professional, much less a high school student. Could it be newspaper clippings with info and images of him burning government buildings? Could it even be grainy old video footage of him throwing stones at the police?
The Principal’s shaky old hand resting on the mouse finds the strength to click on the attached file in the email.
It’s a high definition video, and the camera angle is looking down on a door in a hallway.
The door looks familiar to him, and upon squinting his eyes in an attempt to gather his thoughts, he can see that it is the school's faculty bathroom.
“Akihiro-kun, just what is this supposed to be?”
At the ten second mark of the video, the bathroom door opens slowly, and the gray head of the Principal peeks out and cautiously looks both ways down the hall. Seeing that the coast is clear, the old man saunters off and out of view of the CCTV footage.
Only a few short seconds later, dreadful looking liquid comes gushing out from underneath the bathroom door in a torrent of sewage.
Some unfortunate fellow teachers arrive on screen and reach the puddle to investigate, once there they can be seen holding their noses, and gesturing their disgust while running about in a huff to find something to stop the flowing sludge. One of the female teachers takes off in a staggered dash out of the camera’s view holding her mouth as though she were about to vomit.
“I gotta say, I’ve never known an upstanding citizen to clog the faculty toilet and bail like that.”
“That’s what this is all about!?”
“Did you think it was going to be something else?”
The Principal doesn’t even have time to be relieved about the contents of this video having nothing to do with the criminal past of his youth; what is on screen in front of him is a much more recent and dire revelation.
The reason why is brought up by Tani when he points out,
“The toilet backup was really quite the story amongst the teachers. Everyone wanted to know who was responsible for it.”
“I-It was already clogged before I even got there!”
“Just because you say that, doesn’t make it true, you lying old man. You even let my homeroom teacher Yoshitaka-sensei take the fall for it. The rumors that he is the culprit are really making life difficult for him.”
The Principal turns his face away from the biting wind that is the student sitting opposite of him, he has no rebuttal to the accusation.
“Poor Yoshitaka-sensei!” Purposefully being overdramatic, Tani gestures with his head tilted back and his hand holding his face. “His first year as a teacher, and now all his peers associate him with poop. I imagine that’s exactly why you used him as a scapegoat, can't have anyone finding out that the seasoned old Principal was dumb enough to flush paper towels down the toilet.”
“That was all there was to wipe with!! Somebody took all the toilet paper out of the bathroom!”
This is in fact true, Principal Togashi actually had to walk spread legged with his pants down at his ankles to search for another roll in the adjacent stall. Upon finding it void of a spare roll, he hurriedly rushed to the paper towel dispenser and grabbed a handful. It was probably the fastest his old body had moved in many years, the fear of a colleague walking in at that moment and seeing him so exposed and vulnerable brought tremendous speed to his awkward looking shuffle across the tile floor.
“Ah, there you go blaming others for your problems again.” Tani mocks. “I guess you really haven’t changed since you were a young man.”
“Ha! I can’t imagine how much your reputation will take a hit after everyone working under you finds out you’re a spineless fraud. I’ve CC’d this link to every last faculty member, all it would take is a click of a button and everything you’ve built up slowly will crumble down around your feet. You’ve made it pretty clear how important your image is, I bet this’ll really suck for you.”
“Y-You! How did you get this footage?? Wait, why is there even a camera pointed directly at the faculty bathroom anyways!?”
“Oooh? I wonder.”
The way Tani positions his eyebrows and sticks his nose up is all the evidence the Principal needs to immediately figure out the answer to his own question.
“T-This has to be some sort of crime!”
“The only crime here is what you did to that toilet and your pitiful kouhai. If I release this footage, no one is going to care how it got there.”
“If you were conniving enough to put a camera there, then that means you had to have known what was going to happen. Was it you who took all the toilet paper!?”
“Hmm, I wonder.”
Again, Tani purposefully implicates his guilt.
“You dastardly little ---! How did you even know I wasn’t just going in there to pee!?”
Reaching into his cardigan pocket, Tani pulls out his phone and presents it to the Principal. On the screen is the old man entering a popular fast food restaurant.
“Timing is everything in my line of business, it was only a matter of time until you used that free gift card to Ch****le I sent you and the staff for Christmas last year. It’s a famous American restaurant that just opened its first store here in Japan, but it’s also famous for wreaking havoc on one’s stomach, even for those red blooded Americans. I knew there would be no way your aging Japanese digestive system could handle something like that.”
“Such pre-meditation!? You could have just applied like a normal person in the time it took for this plan to work out, you monster!”
With a chuckle, Tani stands up out of his chair and begins walking towards the door. “I am assuming we have ourselves a deal then? I would like to get club activities started tomorrow.”
The Principal slinks back into his leather chair. Accepting the devious nature of this student and not wanting to face any more of it, he relents his opposition.
“F-Fine.” He sighs, defeated and dejected. “I’ll sign the form. But because you didn’t do it right like the other students, getting members to join a club that just formed out of the blue like this will be very difficult for you.”
“Following the rules doesn’t help prepare me for my future as a Diplomat…” Turning around with a confident smile, Tani pushes up his glasses. “You aren’t the only authority figure I’m using to help me, I always have my hands in a few cookie jars at a time.”
Principal Togashi shudders at the thought of how many other poor suckers this devilish student is in the process of blackmailing.
“W-Wait!” he pleas.
Tani stops in the doorway.
“Why would you bring up my college years if you were only going to hold the bathroom debacle over my head?”
Not turning to address the old man, he replies,
“Because the young idealistic version of yourself is a lot like me… Just as you were at one point, I am willing to do whatever it takes to achieve my goal.”
With a side shouldered glance, the two’s eyes meet with the destructive force of a crashing comet.
“The difference between you and I is, I am going to succeed. I will become the Secretary General of the UN!”
Tani turns away and exits the room like a superhero in an action comic leaving the scene of an explosion he had just caused.
With that, the Languages Club is now official.
Today’s UN Lesson ---- ‘Diplomacy’ works best when shady!!