Japan’s Agricultural Cooperatives Challenging Regional Revitalization: Aiming at Reconstruction of “Solidarity”

                                                                                                                                      August 1st, 2018
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
YUKITOMO Wataru, Senior Fellow


“Self-reform” of agricultural cooperatives or JAs has three goals aiming at “increase in farmer’s income”, “expansion of agricultural production”, and “revitalization of regional societies”. Out of these goals, the revitalization of regional societies has been promoted by implementing various activities, and therefore achievement of these activities is rather hard to be confirmed. Now that regional societies are confronting various kinds of difficult challenges like aging, declining birth rate and population decrease, a role to be played by JA as a “cooperative based on the region with food and agriculture being a core of its activity” is significant.

Arguments over the reform of agricultural cooperatives have been pursued in a direction that would make JAs separate their business activities other than farm guidance and agriculture related businesses from their main bodies by outsourcing these business activities to other organizations or by becoming their agents. This is the direction leading to dissolution of multi-purpose agricultural cooperatives, which has relationship intimately connected with the discussion on postponed regulation against associate members’ patronage for the agricultural cooperatives.

The JA Group, on the other hand, has continuously pursued their efforts to tackle challenges faced by regional societies by strengthening unities of members without barriers between regular and associate members through multifunctional business activities as well as by promoting collaboration with cooperatives of other types, residents’ organizations, local governments and other related bodies. These efforts have their origin in the “Basic Plan for Better Living Activities” and the “Basic Policy of Better Living Activities of Agricultural Cooperatives” decided by the JA Group respectively in 1970 and 1985. Under these basic policies, JAs have continued to take concrete measures like welfare activities for aged people with JA’s mutual help organization of voluntary members.

When we have entered in an era of depopulation, regional societies are confronting much more complicated and difficult problems than ever. In this situation, there is an increase in JAs making efforts to create a new “solidarity” by promoting various activities including collaboration with “region management organizations” supporting…Link reading

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