【Booklet】Trace the origin of cooperative in JAPAN (Jan 1, 2015) <Toyohiko Kagawa and Masayo Oba>Build the prototype of the mutual aid / Medical mutual aid


Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960) was the person of “anyway, action”. At the age of 21, while studying as a Christian God student, he moved into the slums of Kobe city. While leading the labor movement in the Kansai region, he established consumption cooperatives in Osaka city and Kobe city. At first he started “movement of poverty relief”, and gradually he transfered the emphasis on “movement of poverty prevention”. When the Great Kanto Earthquake occured, he rushed to the site and provided soup kitchen for the next day. After the earthquake, he transferred his activities to Tokyo, and established consumption cooperatives and credit cooperatives in downtown and also fonded University Co-op.

He was also interested in insurance. He applied to the authorities of the insurance business in cooperatives, but Ministry of Commerce and Industry did not shake the neck in a vertical. He gave up the apply and acquired one property and casualty insurance company put up for sale at that time and named it “Kyoei Fire Co., Ltd.”. In Japan, it is difficult to find “kyosai (mutual aid)” named organization unrelated to Kagawa. He also started in hospital management. He established Nakano General Hospital at Nakano-ku, Tokyo city. This opportunity triggered movement to create hospital cooperatives.

So to speak, Masayo Oba (1882-1939) was medical pioneer. Aobara village of Shimane prefecture (now Tsuwano town) was the village without doctor, where seriously ill people had to wait to die. Oba, who became president of local sangyokumiai (cooperatives), considered necessity to have the medical facilities with the spirit of mutual aid and power of farmers. In 1919, He opened a cooperatives clinic, while overcoming the objection of local doctors.

After that, the clinic became a hospital and such movement trggered to spread nationwide establishment of “hospitals of koseiren (prefectural federation of welfare cooperatives)” Currently, such hospitals have been survived as private medical institutions, jointly funded by local goverments.

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