Unoki left the Mitsui affiliated trading company in 1959 when he was hired as one of the first Sony employees for the International Division. His father had taken the liberty of sending an application form to Sony on his behalf. After joining, Unoki's fate was sealed when he bravely opened a letter from Africa that had been left unopened. Several months after he started working for Sony, he was sent to Africa.
Morita urged, "Go as soon as possible. Africa is calling you." However, at the time, many African nations were still under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and other countries. He was told that for the countries he wanted to visit, it usually took up to three months to obtain a visa through the British Embassy. "You must be kidding. I can't wait that long," Unoki replied, irritated. Just then, word came that the newly independent Egypt had established an embassy in Tokyo. When he applied for a visa at the Embassy of Egypt, it was processed on the spot. "I guess I'll find my way around once I get there," he thought to himself and hopped on a plane with a bag full of sample transistor radios. After landing in Cairo, he traveled to Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rhodesia, South Africa, and several west African countries. In total, Unoki spent roughly six months in Africa.
How did he obtain visas? When he was in Egypt, he went to the Embassy of Sudan to apply for a visa, enclosing a "5 note between the pages of his passport and shooting an eager look at the attendant on duty saying, "I'd like to go to Sudan next." He got his visa almost immediately. In Sudan, he did the same thing. In fact, his "5 notes opened borders for him throughout Africa. "This is easier than I expected," he chuckled. "The trick is to get into Africa. The rest is easy." At the time, there were no Japanese firms present in these countries, and Japanese individuals in the region were rare.
Unoki's assignment was to find potential distributors. Based on research he had done on the companies which had made inquiries to Sony, he completed a list of potential partners. Once on location, he conducted further research into the business operations and financial status of these firms through information gathered from banks and local chambers of commerce. If the figures and the storefronts looked promising, Unoki would telephone the potential client and say, "I'm here. May I come and see you?" This is how he went about negotiating deals.
Though he seldom received replies, Unoki wrote letters to Tokyo daily, reporting on and giving his impressions of the stores and people he visited and the feasibility of doing business with them. Many of the places he visited had no reliable sources of electricity, and a transistor radio operating on a small battery proved incredibly popular. Unoki found that as soon as he presented his samples to potential distributors, they all wanted to start doing business with Sony as soon as possible. "We'd like to start from tomorrow," they would say. "Please get approval from Tokyo immediately," they urged. Unoki needed a reply from Tokyo and though he tried telephone and telex, the telecommunication links with Japan were so poor that he could not get through. In effect, the letters he had sent to Tokyo seeking permission had simply become one-way "progress reports" because he seldom received a reply. Unoki was only 30 years old at the time. Business with dealers like Tedelex of South Africa, which Sony has maintained a relationship with for more than 30 years, began this way.
Meanwhile, Tamiya had completed his training in the Japanese domestic market and was in charge of the Central and South American regions. He was sent to Peru in 1963. His choices had been Lima or Beirut. Unfortunately for Tamiya, he was assigned to Peru, a country where English is not the official language. As Tamiya did not speak Spanish, he spent his early days in Peru working by day and studying Spanish at night.
Tamiya never returned to Japan during the five years he spent in Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil, and had few visitors from Japan. He finally returned to Japan in October 1967. In 1970, a residential representative office called Sony Corporation of Panama S.A. was established in Panama to oversee operations in all of Central and South America.