Responding to challenges and existing knowledge gaps facing the cooperative movement, this mapping research seeks to provide exhaustive information on cooperatives worldwide. This is achieved through a process jointly conducted by the ICA and its four regional offices – Cooperatives of the Americas, Cooperatives Europe, ICA Africa, and ICA Asia-Pacific – using a common methodology. Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using the same questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain an accurate picture of the national situation. Mapping out cooperatives in each country provides a more precise picture of the cooperative context at national and regional levels, enhances the movement's visibility, networking, partnerships opportunities, as well as advocacy, and empowers cooperators by providing them tools for positive change.
This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Japan. For more information, you can download the full report and the highlights here.
Cooperatives play a major role in Japan’s economy and are present all over the country. They form the mainstay of the rural economy through their presence in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sector. From rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and young to elderly, cooperatives touch all sections of the Japanese society. The roots of the cooperative movement in Japan date back to early 1800s when mutual organisations of the socially vulnerable were formed for the first time. Agriculture, consumer, credit, fishery, and forestry were the main types of cooperatives prevalent during this period.
ICA has seventeen members from Japan
In Japan, the data collected was for the reference year 2018.
ICA members represent 42,000 cooperatives with 105 million members.
Cooperatives in Japan are present in diverse sectors including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, consumer, worker, finance, insurance, etc.
The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.
It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.
In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Japan.
There is no one general regulation of cooperatives in Japan, but there are separate cooperative acts specifically dedicated to different kinds of cooperatives, which are regulated by different ministries. This research mainly deals with the Agricultural Cooperatives Act (ACA) and Consumer Cooperatives Act (CCA).
Agricultural Cooperatives Act, 1947 - Dedicated to Agricultural cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Financial Services Agency (FSA)
Consumer Cooperatives Act, 1948 - Dedicated to Consumer cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW)
Fisheries Cooperatives Act, 1948 - Dedicated to Fisheries cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Financial Services Agency (FSA)
SME Cooperatives Act, 1949 - Dedicated to SME cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI)
Act on Cooperative Banking,1949 - Dedicated to Credit cooperatives and is under the supervision of Financial Services Agency (FSA)
Shinkin Bank Act, 1951 - Dedicated to Shinkin Banks and is under the supervision of Financial Services Agency (FSA)
Labor Bank Act, 1953 - Dedicated to Labor Banks and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) Financial Services Agency (FSA)
Tobacco Growers Cooperative Act, 1958 - Dedicated to Tobacco Growers Cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Ministry of Finance (FSA)
Forest-Owners Cooperative Act, 1978 - Dedicated to Forest-Owners Cooperatives and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF)
Norinchukin Bank Act, 2001 - Dedicated to Norinchukin Bank and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Financial Services Agency (FSA)
The ICA principles of cooperative identity are explicitly referred to in cooperative law.
The degree of ‘cooperative friendliness’ of the Japanese cooperative legislation varies from sector to sector. The Agricultural Cooperatives Act has been friendly to agricultural cooperatives as a major tool to implement the agricultural policy together with subsidies and favourable tax treatment. The Consumer Cooperative Act has been unfriendly to consumer cooperatives under the pressure of small retailers resulting in stricter regulation on non-member trade.
There should be a national working group to examine the problems of existing cooperative legislation and develop a common strategy to improve the legal framework of cooperatives so that they can effectively contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA.