“For too long our economy has suffered under the shadow of happiness and well being” proclaimed Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso at the official launch of the new Suffering for Prosperity committee.
The committee was formed earlier this month after Mr Aso shared his insights on the importance of drinking and smoking to the economy: “If I stopped smoking, drinking and golfing, my family would be very happy. But if everybody did the same, all the bars and liquor shops would go bankrupt. Japan Tobacco would go under. The streets would be filled with unemployed people.”
The committee has been hard at work identifying industries key to increasing misery for the sake of the economy.
“We got really lucky with Fukishima,” said Mr Yamada, a chairman for the comittee, “if we want to drive our economy into the future, we must accelerate the growth and demise of nuclear power.”
When asked about tightening regulations for nuclear energy Mr Yamada responded “Are you crazy? Fukishima has been a boon for environmental inspectors, the housing industry (to shelter displaced people), and the health and pharmaceutical industries will be seeing decades of unprecedented revenue as they treat residents and their children for radiation related illnesses. I only wish we could say we a had a hand in it.”
Not wanting to miss out again, the committee is proposing a slew of measures to increase the chances of a nuclear accident. Measures include reduced staff training, accepting company executive’s assurances that everything is fine, and transporting nuclear waste by clown car.
Some critics have labelled the task force a ghoulish and soulless promotion of profiting from death. Mr Yamada dismissed detractors, saying they have a childish understanding of modern economics, “these foolish idealists can try making money off of curing cancer, but savvy investors are investing in long, protracted human suffering – debilitating illnesses that are so slow to kill that industries can profit for decades before illness finally consumes their consumers.”
Other industries identified as key drivers of pain and misery include arms manufacturing, the Japanese game show industry and food & beverage. “People tend to think of the food industry as one that contributes to our health”, said Ms Fumiko Miyagi, committee’s chair of ill-being, “but the processed food industry has been making great strides, these days they’re selling things that, a generation ago few people wouldn’t even have considered them food. Just the sales alone of those foods are to be admired, but when you think of all the side effects like diabetes, obesity and even cancer, they’ve really done a lot for the health care industry too, you have to admire them for that. And then there’s genetic engineering! Don’t even get me started on that! We’re only really beginning to understand, but I think there’s a good chance it could yield something really monstorous. The future is just so exciting!”
Many members of the committee are striving to live up to the example set by Mr Aso, Ms Miyagi has been eating more soft drink and junk foods in the hopes of contracting type II diabetes for the good of the Japanese economy. “I’m so inspired by his [Mr Aso's] example to the Japanese people, drinking and smoking and wrecking his own health for our nation” said Ms Miyagi.
Other members of the task force have turned to their families “I asked myself, ‘Who are the leaders in profiting from misery?’”, said committee member Mr Amoto, “and the answer was so obvious – lawyers. So I’ve been starting arguments with my wife and it’s been going well, I expect we’ll be filing for divorce before the end of the month.”
Mr Amoto has two children which he expects will make the divorce a “real hot mess” that will keep his lawyers gainfully employed for months to come.
Finance Minister Mr Aso has ambitious plans for his personal contribution, “A rare, highly infectious disease”, he said wistfully, “Something like bird flu, but with the drawn out, incurable suffering of mad cow disease. I hope one day to be patient zero.”
Mr Aso is traveling to China in September where he plans to visit poultry farms and frolic with geese.