Arguments over associate membership system in the Agricultural Cooperatives Act of Japan and their problems

December 1st, 2017
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
AKEDA Tsukuru, Visiting Fellow


From a viewpoint of the legal system, we have already brought about an end to
arguments over a question of whether an agricultural cooperative is an organization
of farmers for cooperation or not, since the system has provided the regular members
of farmers with a right of control over management of their cooperative.

Although an increase in the number of associate members may make contribution
to profits of regular members who are farmers, there are not such actual conditions
as the increase brings about disadvantages to them. Even supposing that the regular
members suffer disadvantages from the increase of the associate members, the
regular members, who have the right of control over the management of their
cooperative, should make a judgement on how to solve the problem, since the
agricultural cooperative has been once approved as an autonomous and self-help
organizations controlled by their members. This is the sort of problem totally
different by nature from those that the third party should get involved.

Furthermore, a question on what kind of business activities should be
implemented by agricultural cooperatives established under the Agricultural
Cooperatives Act is dependent upon voluntary intension of the establishers of the
respective cooperative. The Act does not require the agricultural cooperative as an
essential condition for its legitimate establishment to implement such businesses as
marketing and the like. Some advocates, nevertheless, urge that the cooperative
should make maximum efforts to increase agricultural income as a farmers’
organization for cooperation as if those efforts were the greatest responsibility for
the cooperatives under the legal system. We can say, however, they have prepared a
false premise on which their argument is based.

From a viewpoint of the theory of legislation, amendment of the Act will be desired
to be made in line with the purpose of the Act just toward a direction which removes
any possible obstacles to promotion of development of farmers’ organization for
cooperation by responding to changes of the environment surrounding the


A supplementary provision of the latest Act Partially Amending the Agricultural
Cooperatives Act and other related Acts (Act No. 63 of 2015, hereinafter referred to
as “Amending Act” ), which ordered the government to review the application of the
provision of the Act after approximately five years from the enforcement of the
Amending Act, states that “investigates on a desirable way of regulating the
associate members’ patronage of the business services provided by an agricultural
cooperative shall be completed to reach a conclusion (partly omitted)” (art.51. para.3
of the supplementary provisions of the Amending Act). The Amending Act stipulates
this provision as if the regulation on the associate members’ patronage of the…Link reading

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