Spotlighting the recent move of the Japanese Government to assault the agricultural cooperative movement in Japan, a senior cooperator Mr Akira Banzai circulated a note among cooperators during the recently concuded ICA-AP Regional Assembly in Delhi seeking their their support on the issue.
”I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the recent attempt in Japan to demutualize agricultural cooperatives and I hope you can share our sense of crisis going through my report,” Banzai said in his note.
About three years ago, there was a similar move when the Japanese government had wanted to dismantle multi-purpose agricultural cooperatives in Japan. At the time, the ICA global board was extremely supportive of our fight against the move. The ICA global board sent a delegation to Japan and helped us in organizing a series of seminars on the issue, the note said.
In Japan agricultural cooperatives’ are to be converted into limited companies, this is not made compulsory but has been left to the members to decide.
However, just last week, on November 11, the advisory council to the prime minister, the regulatory reform promoting council, issued a new draft recommending further reforms of agricultural cooperatives.
As per the new recommendation, they want Zennoh, the national federation of economic business of agricultural cooperatives to stop their joint purchase business. They also want Zennoh to convert their marketing business from consignment sales to purchase sales. They want this to be compulsory.
According to the recommendation , if there is no progress, the government should set up a new organization (a second Zennoh).
The recommendation further says the credit business of multi-purpose agricultural cooperatives should be transferred to the Norinchukin Bank, which is the national federation of credit business of agricultural cooperatives. A reduction in the number of the agricultural cooperatives engaged in credit business to half the current number in the coming three years is also recommended.
All these proposals are an unfair interference into private organizations such as agricultural cooperatives as they go against the cooperative principle of autonomy and independence, Akira said.
This daft recommendation is till now a draft of the advisory council and will be studied by the ruling parties.
Sensing a grave crisis, JA-Xenchu will work with other cooperatives in Japan to express strong opposition to these proposals. At the same time, we are implementing our own business and organizational reforms.
We would like to inform the ICA global board as well share our experience with cooperators from across the world about this negative development in Japan. I hope you, the delegates to this regional Assembly, continue to give us understanding and strong support, Akira concluded.