President of the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives
President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Member of the board of the ICA
Thursday, February 12, 2015, 16:00 - 17:00
One of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's toughest policy issues is coming to a head: Reforming the agricultural sector and the farm lobby to make it more globally competitive.
As part of the reform, Abe's government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are proposing a massive overhaul of one of its largest supporters, JA Zenchu, or the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives. The group, which has nearly 10 million members in 700 co-operatives across Japan, serves as a distributor, supplier, bank and insurer to farmers - and is a powerful lobbying and political organization.
While the group had said previously that it wasn't going down without a fight, it has announced that it will accept the prime minister's reform plans. But will any deal founder upon implementation, like so many other promised structural reforms in Japan over the years?
Akira Banzai, who assumed the presidency of JA Zenchu in 2011, will come to the Club to explain the organization's position on the proposed restructuring of the organization, which has strong ideas of its own on revamping its operations for the 21st century.
Joining Banzai will be Dame Pauline Green, the first woman president of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), and Jean-Louis Bancel, an ICA board member and chair of the ICA's Principle Committee. Green and Bancel will be visiting Japan to express their concern about Abe's reform proposals. Green will speak on the increasingly recognized strength of co-operatives, while Bancel will talk about the potential negative effects of the contemplated changes, using foreign examples.
The ICA was established in 1895 to promote the international co-operative movement. It is the largest non-governmental organization in the world and has 1 billion individual members under its 283 member co-operative organizations from 94 countries. Fifteen national-level co-operative organizations in Japan participate in the ICA as members. They include JA and JCCU, the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union.