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This synopsis of "Enterprise" (Jigyô, 1950) is based on and all page numbers refer to the version appearing in volume 2 of the Abe Kôbô zensakuhin shû,Tokyo: Shinchôsha, 1973. All translations are my own.

 

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The story is written in the format of a letter from an entrepreneur to a detective novelist, with the purpose of enlisting the novelist's support to his cause. The entrepreneur is a believer in the god known as "Chance," and his entrepreneurial success is a product of his faith. He considers his position akin to that of a priest in this religion. His business began when he started breeding rats, whose meat he then used to make sausages. The sausages are a tremendous success, and protecting the secret of the recipe is of course central to maintaining this success. To those who would call his concealment of the recipe immoral he replies:


This sort of secrecy and silence is the duty of the entrepreneur, indeed one should think of it as his law. As long as the sausages are perfect, isn't that enough? Beyond that, useless knowledge will only draw the masses into rebellion. That which appears moral is moral. (146)


Things at the factory proceed smoothly until a particularly large strain of rats--known as "pig rats"--attack and eat the breeder. The rats go on a violent rampage killing several people, including the entrepreneur's wife. This tragedy serves only to further inspire the entrepreneur. He quickly removes the entrails from the bodies of those killed by the rats and turns them into sausages. His new line of sausages becomes an even greater success.


Shifting from rats to corpses, demand for his sausages grows to unprecedented heights, and ultimately begins to outstrip his supply of bodies. Accordingly he is required to find new sources of raw materials, which is to say, he begins to murder people. To the uninitiated, he says, this would appear to be a sin, but, with the last supper and communion, Christianity itself justifies the act in its assertion that killing someone is acceptable provided one intends to eat him (or her) afterwards.


Still, in order to mass produce the sausages it becomes necessary to devise a mechanism by which people will offer themselves up without a struggle. Visiting an automated slaughterhouse in America, where animals go in on one side and sausages come out the other, he has an epiphany.


Back home, he builds a slaughterhouse of his own, calling it "Utopia." He quickly begins an advertising campaign urging people to come to "Utopia" and is soon rewarded with a steady flow of "visitors." He hits upon another idea to further increase his profits and begins to charge admission. This has the effect of increasing Utopia's allure and the influx of people. His scheme achieves perfection with a revised advertisement that provides him with all the raw materials his sausage plant could ever need:


"It's Utopia! Why hesitate? What's that, no money? Well, make some and then come. Become one of our sausage salesmen. Labor has its rewards. With a few months of work, your life will be secured. This Utopia is not transitory. Once you enter, its final. For as long as you live, whatever happens, you don't leave." (149-150)