The Japan Workers’ Co-operative Union (JWCU), originated from the movement to create jobs by the unemployed middle-aged and elderly persons by themselves after World War II, was founded in 1979. JWCU represents and unites worker co-operatives throughout Japan. Each worker cooperative is owned and democratically controlled by the worker-members and dedicated to creating jobs to promote the well-being of communities through associated work of the members and community residents.
JWCU consists of 27 member organizations, including primarily worker co-operatives, older persons’ co-operatives and affiliated organizations, embracing over 13,000 worker-members in total. Our businesses represent diverse areas and sectors in economy such as social services, building maintenance, environment and food/agriculture. Our turnover in fiscal year 2017 amounts to over 300 Million USD.
In addition to contributing to the community through the businesses, JWCU seeks to strengthen its bonds to the community through activities for social solidarity. These include organizing seminars and symposia on a broad range of social issues, providing disaster aid and protesting nuclear energy.
Our membership in ICA(International Co-operative Alliance), CICOPA (International Organization of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives), ICA-AP (ICA,Asia-Pacific) and JCA (Japan Co-operative Alliance) also reflects JWCU’s positive solidarity at national, regional and international levels.
We are developing associated work in cooperatives to realize autonomy and solidarity of workers and citizens to establish sustainable communities – Message from the president of JWCU, Nobuhiro Furumura
Japanese society is entering a big turning point now. The current social and economic system is quite questionable in terms of sustainability and it is necessary to find a way of a new society. These issues such as low birthrate and aging population, population concentration in mega cities and social polarization etc. are interrelated and can not separately be solved with individual measures anymore. Amid the demand for a new social vision, there is a fundamental question as to what constitutes society in the first place, as well as what is the essence of human beings and the source of humanity.
We worker coops in Japan has entered the stage of calling associated work to the world out of the practices of 35 years or more. Workers and people are connected through a relationship of cooperation. Everyone’s individuality is brought into full play. Solidarity fosters people and society abundantly. Our practice has rebuilt the relationship of workers through pursuing the ways of workplace, from fighting with the unemployment problem. We have been consistently pursued “good work” needed by people and surrounding people, found the meaning and pride of working and opened up the relationships of people in local societies. And now, the practices of associated work is trying to give great influence to labor, life, and local culture. I would like to nurture the culture of autonomy, freedom, inclusion and tolerance in the community to make them a cornerstone of society.
In other words, we are now pursuing to embed associated work into local societies and communities. By clarifying the essence of cooperatives value of which is widely known and raising them to an important existence incommunities and societies, I hope to contribute to encourage the vitality of the cooperative movement as a whole. It must also reveal the superiority and universality of cooperatives in the aspect of the ways of human beings and the necessity from society.
Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and issues such as the base of Okinawa are the typical themes in which cooperatives of associated work should play more roles. We have to play a major role in cities where local community networks and functions are extremely weakened, too. To solve common problems in every local society, we cooperatives of associated work must play essential role to rebuild local communities, by establishing community economy which bases not on competition and growth, but on inclusion and sustainability, through enhancing the integrity of everything existing in local society, such as nature, history and culture.
I am confident that solidarity of the everyone’s nurtured individuality can change society. I pursue to realize it through cooperative movement for human well-being.