【Booklet】 Learning from European roots – The 110th anniversary of enactment of “Sangyo Kumiai Law”


 

PREFACE

Two years have passed since financial crisis has threatened the world. Through the experience, people saw the negative side of market fundamentalism and have started to explore the way to switch to new social and economic system based on “co-existence”, from the former style that stands on “the law of the jungle”. In this context, the advantages of cooperative associations built on the spirit of mutual aid are now being re-acknowledged. It was symbolic that the United Nations appointed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

However, less is known about the roots of Japanese cooperatives such as Japan Agricultural Cooperative (JA), Japan Fisheries Cooperative, and Consumers’ Cooperatives. In the midst of 19th century, about 150 years ago, the world’s first rural cooperative associations were established by rural inhabitants in Germany. Under the direction of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, father of cooperative banks, the rural credit associations were founded as a defensive measure by the poor farmers who were struggling to defend themselves from evil power of loan sharks robbing them of farms in those days.

Such movements had spread over to other European countries and Canada and contributed to the development of present western cooperative banks. In East Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, comprehensive rural cooperatives were born, which surprisingly match the ideal form of cooperatives of Raiffeisen. Before the World War I, Inazo NITOBE, the Secretary-General of the League of Nations who contributed to the harmonization of prewar world, did a lot for establishment and development of Japan’s comprehensive cooperative associations (predecessors of present JA) or “Sangyo-Kumiai” in Iwate Prefecture, his birthplace. He did so as he related to the idea of Raiffeisen, “One for all, all for the one.”

There is a common saying that wise men learn a lesson from history. It’s difficult to understand the true value of the present cooperatives without knowing their origin and history. The Japan Agricultural News, jointly with the Norinchukin Bank, therefore started to gather materials to identify “the roots” of the rural cooperatives. We also collected materials from foreign countries to make on-the-ground reports from Europe, Canada, South Korea, and Taiwan. People involved in cooperative activities there talked about the importance of “reliance”, “bonds”, and “contribution to local communities”. It seemed real to us that a new age of cooperatives is coming.

We’d like to make a little contribution to understanding and recognition of cooperatives, in order to establish society based on co-existence, where everyone can live in harmony. For that purpose, the Japan Agricultural News has published this booklet that contains a series of articles on “the roots of cooperatives” which had run from December 2009 to September 2010. We would be most delighted if you could make good use of this.

PDF file : Learning from European roots  (Published in October, 2010)Learning from European roots
TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Eve of its Birth……………Page 1
The Beginning………………….Page 3
The Development……………..Page 5
Austria…………………………….Page 7
Netherlands……………………..Page 9
France……………………………..Page 11
Canada…………………………….Page 13
Japan………………………………Page 15
East Asia…………………………..Page 18

PDF file 2 : Cooperative Associations Today  (Published in October, 2010)
Cooperative Associations Today
TABLE OF CONTENTS

<Cooperative Associations today>
Proof of Security – Europe  ……………………………………………………Page 1
– Time to Cast Spirit of Mutual Aid in New Light
Spirit of Founder – Germany …………………………………………………Page 5
– Always “For Farmers”
Close to Community – Austria ……………………………………………….Page 8
– Precisely Answering Residents’ Needs
Sound Management – Netherlands ………………………………………. Page 11
– Establishing Trust to Win New Clients
Returning Profits – France ……………………………………………………Page 14
– Solid Branch-network to Support Community
Supporting Farmers – Canada ……………………………………………….Page 17
– Preparing to Help Farmers of Next Generations
Synthesized Agricultural Cooperatives (No.1) – South Korea …….Page 20
– The Base to support Local Residents
Synthesized Agricultural Cooperatives (No.2) – Taiwan ……………Page 23
– Strengthening Management to Support Rural Districts
<The Birthplace of cooperatives  – Europe>
Germany …………Page 26
Austria …………….Page 27

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