When governments get creative, countries get bizarre ministries – from coffee, toilet and yoga to happiness and loneliness.
Some unique ministries from around the world at a glance
Papua New Guinea’s Coffee Ministry:
Coffee is one of the crops most frequently farmed in Papua New Guinea. Some 27% of the country’s agricultural exports are coffee. Moreover, the industry contributes 6% of the nation’s total gross domestic product.
Maybe that’s why Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape in August 2022 appointed Joe Kuli as the country’s first Minister for Coffee. “The Minister’s job is to focus on coffee, coffee and coffee,” local media quoted Marape as saying.
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Papua New Guinea is not the first nation to develop such unconventional portfolios – there are a few others, including the UAE, the UK, India and Japan.
Japan’s Loneliness Ministry:
In February 2021, the Japanese government created a unique cabinet portfolio by appointing Tetsushi Sakamoto as its first-ever Minister for Loneliness.
The aim was to tackle the rising suicide rates, particularly among women, in Japan for the first time in a decade due to Covid-19, Japanese media had reported, quoting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
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“I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people,” Sakamoto had said in his inaugural address.
Japan probably took a cue from the UK, where the government created a new portfolio and appointed Tracey Crouch as the Minster of Loneliness in 2018 to help people with problems like social isolation.
UAE’s Ministry of Happiness:
In February 2016, the UAE set up a Ministry of Happiness and appointed Ohood Al Roumi as its Minister entrusted with the job of raising the happiness of its citizens.
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In a slew of tweets, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum then expressed his desire to see more happy people. Roumi’s would supervise “plans, projects, programmes (and) indices” that raise the nation’s general mood, he wrote.
It may also be mentioned here that in 2014, Japan appointed Haruko Arimura as the country’s first unofficial Minister of Toilets.
India’s Yoga Ministry:
The same year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi created a unique ministry to promote traditional Indian medicine and yoga. And Shirpad Naik was appointed the Minister of Yoga. A year later, the country celebrated Yoga Day for the first time.