【Research】A study of the Latest Amendments to the Agricultural Cooperatives Act of Japan


October, 1st. 2015
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
AKEDA Tsukuru, Visiting Fellow

■Abstract

 The latest amendments to the Agricultural Cooperatives Act has been carried out by amending wide-ranged provisions of the Act, although some of them were not subject to arguments at the deliberations of the Diet. It contains a number of provisions which were deemed important from a practical point of view.

 Many stakeholders, however, have found it difficult for them not only to understand the necessity of the latest amendments to the Act, but also to accept it forthrightly. No such amendment has ever been found in the history of the Act. The cause lies in the legislative process itself of the Amending Act.
The primary purpose of the Agricultural Cooperatives Act is “to promote the sound development of cooperative organizations of farmers”. An idea for making use of the agricultural cooperative associations as a means to realize a certain political purpose is not only inconsistent with the essential characteristics of autonomy and mutual self-help of cooperatives, but also likely to lead to distortion of these characteristics.

 If the latest amendments to the Agricultural Cooperatives Act aimed to “transform the agricultural sector into a growth-oriented industry”, it must be observed that the main topic to be discussed was how to build up a supportive legal framework for agricultural cooperatives like supporting formation of new-typed agricultural cooperatives, rather than confining agricultural cooperatives, which have respectively diversified conditions and characteristic features, into a single framework.

■Introduction

 The bill of the Act Partially Amending the Agricultural Cooperatives Act and other related Acts (Act No. 63 of 2015) (hereinafter referred to as “Amending Act”) was introduced by the Cabinet in the 189th ordinary session of the Diet on April 3, 2015. At the House of Representatives, the bill was partially amended (a partial amendment of the supplementary provisions of the bill) and passed by a majority vote on June 30. On August 28, the bill of the Amending Act, which had been partially amended in the House of Representatives, was approved and enacted at the House of Councilors. And the Amending Act was finally promulgated on September 4 (enforced on April 1, 2016, excluding a part of the Act).

 The Amending Act consists of (1) partial revision of the Agricultural Cooperatives Act, (2) partial revision of the Act on Agricultural Commission, etc., (3) partial revision of the Agricultural Land Act, (4) partial revision of the Agricultural and Fishery Cooperative Savings Insurance Act, (5) partial revision of the Act on Enhancement and Restructuring of Credit Business Conducted by The Norinchukin Bank and Specified Agricultural and Fishery Cooperatives, etc., and (6) repeal of the Agricultural Warehousing Business Act.

 The latest amendments were implemented with an aim of giving an overhaul particularly to agricultural cooperative organizations, agricultural commissions and agricultural production corporations so as to transform the agricultural sector into a growth-oriented industry in response to recent changes and the like in the conditions surrounding agriculture. Main contents of the partial amending the Agricultural Cooperatives Act are (1) clarification on principles of business operations of agricultural cooperative associations, (2) organizational management of the association to be ensured as an autonomous organization of members, (3) modification to composition of directors and supervisory committees, (4) establishment of provisions concerning incorporation-type corporate split and entity conversion of the agricultural cooperative association, (5) abolition of the system of the union of agricultural cooperatives, and (6) obligatory appointment of a financial auditor at the agricultural cooperative association. operating the banking business. In addition to these contents, some significant amendments are also included in the Amending Act.

 The partial amending the Agricultural Cooperatives Act will be outlined and verified in the following sections, while other related Acts of the Amending Act are hereby excluded. And it must be noted in advance that the views and opinions expressed in this paper are the author’s own.…Link reading

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