photo by Shinohara office
12th June 12, 2020
Cooperatives in Japan are respectively governed by different laws of their own. There are seven cooperative laws in Japan; most of them were enacted in the 1940s and 50s, and the newest law on forest owners’ cooperative associations was enacted in 1978. Major cooperatives such as agricultural cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, forestry cooperatives, fishery cooperatives, labor banks, credit unions, etc., are governed by their specific laws under the control of different ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Financial Service Agency and so forth.
However, there has not been a law on worker cooperatives in Japan so far. We, worker cooperatives, have thus developed our movements and businesses by using other legal statuses such as those of NPO and of SME cooperative, among others. Incidentally, unlike many other countries, Japan does not have any law on social cooperatives, social enterprises, social (solidarity) economy either, nor a general cooperative law. Japan Workers’ Cooperative Union (JWCU) have thus promoted the legalization movement since around 2000, together with Workers’ Collective Network of Japan (WNJ), with the object of enacting a law on worker cooperatives.
Through many years of hard work, our movement is finally reaching its goal today. On 12th June 2020, the draft of “Worker Cooperatives Act” was submitted to the House of Representatives with support of all political parties and all factions. There are 15 submitters and 53 supporters (all of them are members of the House of Representatives). For more details, please look documents below.
This is an epoch-making event not only for worker cooperative movements in Japan but also for the whole cooperative movement. It is a new cooperative act in Japan for last 42 years since 1978. Japan Cooperative Alliance (JCA)—an apex organization of all cooperative sectors in Japan—and other cooperative federations have been strongly supporting the legalization movement.
The act will be discussed in the next session of the Diet that will be held in this fall, and probably passed.