News 2015/6/23

The 26th General Meeting of the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union
Special Resolution for Creating “FEC Self-sufficient Zones” was Adopted


On June 22nd, the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union held its 26th General Meeting in central Tokyo. The meeting was attended by 270 out of 319 representatives from local Seikatsu Clubs, which was more than the quorum required for a general meeting. All the proposals were approved by a majority of the representatives.

At the end of the meeting, the following special resolution was adopted to unanimous applause.

June 22nd, 2015

26th General Meeting, Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative
Agenda Item 7, Special Resolution

We will promote co-operative development to build self-sufficient areas in Food, Energy and Care, and push forward the Seikatsu Club movement and its business.

Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Seikatsu Club, which started as a milk-buying club in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. At the general meeting this year, we seized on this milestone anniversary and adopted the “6th Medium-term Action Plans” after two years of discussion.

The Actions Plans outline the basic standpoints of the Seikatsu Club, stating, “We need to reconsider the meaning of modern society as we face a historic turning point, finding it now impossible to look toward to a future based on the modern myth of economic growth. We should no longer live in accordance with the myth. It is time for us to build steady-state and self-sufficient socio-economic models of de-growth to create a better quality of life by drawing inspiration from the concept of ’Self-sufficient areas in FEC’ (*1).”

Based on these standpoints, we declared in the action plans for fiscal year 2015 that:
● We will deepen both independence and solidarity among Seikatsu Clubs, and promote our businesses in the fields of food, energy and care. We will do so for our future and for future generations.

The 6th Medium-term Action Plans will be our plans for the five years from 2015 to 2019. The situation surrounding co-operatives is becoming increasingly tough.

First of all, there is uncertainty about the outcomes of the TPP (*2) negotiations. It looks like we are now approaching the conclusion. Some people say that it is close to the mountain's ninth station (the tenth station being the summit) aiming at a basic agreement during the summer of 2015. It is reported that Japan has made concessions and will allow large-scale reductions in tariffs for some of the five important items (*3). This would cause severe disadvantages for the Seikatsu Club and our farmers, who hold to the basic policy of promoting self-sufficiency in food.

Secondly, we are concerned about the future of the draft revision of the Agricultural Co-operative Law. The draft includes many amendments which are designed to weaken agricultural co-operatives (*4). The revision signifies government intrusion on co-operatives, which are autonomous civil society organizations. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is also concerned about this problem. At the moment, only agricultural co-operatives are under attack, but this should not be seen as somebody else’s problem by co-operatives in other sectors.

Thirdly, the security-related bills are under debate in the Japanese Diet. The Abe administration is steadily paving the way for an amendment of the Constitution. The administration hopes to implement this after the Lower Hose elections in July 2016. “Steady-state and self-sufficient socio-economic models of de-growth to create a better quality of life” can only be built on peace. We must keep our eyes on the situation because our lives and co-operative activities are under threat.

Under these circumstances, “Co-operatives in the Year 2000”, also known as the “Laidlaw Report”, still raises good points even 35 years after it was adopted at the ICA congress in 1980. Those points are even more significant than at the time they were initially raised. The report set off alarm bells against neo-liberalism, which had begun to flourish at that time, and stated, “Co-operatives must try to be islands of sanity in a world gone somewhat mad.”

We seriously acknowledge the messages contained in the report and adopt a resolution to commit ourselves to the following actions in order to overcome the current difficult situation:

  1. We will work to implement the 6th Medium-term Action Plans in solidarity among all the Seikatsu Clubs and to encourage new members to work with us to create FEC self-sufficient areas.
  2. We oppose the signing and ratification of TPP and will strengthen our ties with our farmers to enhance our ability to be self-sufficient in food.
  3. By working in solidarity with co-operatives both in Japan and in the world, we will work against government intervention in co-operative autonomy and promote co-operatives in order to contribute to our members and our local communities.
  4. We will start to prepare our policy recommendations targeting the Lower House elections in July 2016.

*1: FEC stands for Food, Energy and Care (such as child care, elderly care, and care for disabled people). It is advocated by Katsuto Uchihasi (economic analyst and the chairperson of the Japan National Planning Committee for IYC 2012).

*2: Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership

*3: Rice, wheat, beef and pork, milk and dairy products, sweetening resource crops (such as sugar cane).

*4: Proposals to transform JA ZENCHU (the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives) from a co-operative to a general incorporated association, abolish its role as an auditor for agricultural co-operatives, demutualize the Natural Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations, and place restrictions on the structure of the board.