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News & Events: 2012

JWCU Celebrated the 20th Anniversary of ICA Membership
(December 7, 2012)
2012 is such an important year for us, because it is the International Year of Cooperatives and it also marks the 20th anniversary since we joined ICA in 1992. On December 7th 2012, JWCU celebrated the 20th anniversary of ICA membership, and over 600 came together to celebrate this historic moment. We truly appreciate warm messages for this event from ICA, ICA-AP and CICOPA.

President of JWCU, Yuzo Nagato, reviewed our progress from 1992 to the present, and said in his opening speech: "We should face what is going on now in our society and cooperate with various people and organizations in times of crisis. Let's promote further cooperation and solidarity and work harder for the approval of the Law on Associated Workers' Co-operatives!"
Thanks to your continuous support, we could have come this far. Even though we could not achieve our goal of having the Law on Associated Workers' Co-operatives approved during the International Year of Cooperatives, we continue to be committed to our legislative movement in order to build a decent society through associated work!
Korean TV Reporter Interviewed JWCU Leader & Members
(November 22, 2012)
On November 22nd, a reporter of Korean national TV station KBS interviewed JWCU president and members for its news program.

In South Korea, while Framework Law on Cooperative became effective in December 2012, the country faces serious challenges such as population aging and depopulation in rural areas. Worker coop movement is drawing increasing attention as a way to revitalize communities while creating jobs.
The interview with JWCU president included such questions as: the kind of jobs we create (jobs which also benefit communities), roles and functions of a national federation (e.g. legislative movement, skill development, training, developing standards, etc.), what are needed to sustain coops (democratic management, complying with standards, being true to associated work principles, dedicated leaders, etc.).

The reporter also showed interest in our movie gWorkers,h which introduces several worker coops in Japan and will be released shortly, and she kindly said she would introduce this movie in Korea.

As the Framework Law started in South Korea, there will be a lot of things we should learn from Korean coop movement as well.
The 15th National Gathering of "Cooperation" 2012 Held in Saitama
(November 17-18, 2012)
The 15th National Gathering of Cooperation 2012 was held in Saitama Prefecture on November 17th-18th 2012 with the theme of "Creating Communities to Revitalize Humanity: Work, Living, Lives for the Next Generation."

The plenary session on 17th consisted mainly of Commemorative Lecture on "New Economy and Society We Call for in Time of Historic Crisis" and panel discussion on "Communities to Reconstruct Humanness." On 18th, there were 20 section meetings on various topics.
1,375 people joined the plenary session on Day 1 and 1,432 people came to the 20 section meetings on Day 2, with passionate discussions on roles of cooperatives in rebuilding communities and societies.

This yearfs gathering was particularly special because we were also celebrating International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) at the gathering.  We were honored to have international guests: Dr. Jean-Louis Laville (France, Economist), Dr. Johnston Birchall (Scotland: Professor, University of Stirling), Dr. Jong Gu Kim (Korea: Professor, Hanyang University) and Mr. Sung Ming Chow (Hong Kong: Director, Hong Kong Fair Trade Power).

We would like to thank ICA, ICA-AP and CICOPA for sending us kind messages for this gathering.

Chief Organizer of ACORN International Visited JWCU
(October 16-17, 2012)
On October 16th-17th 2012, the Chief Organizer of ACORN International, Mr. Wade Rathke, who has been making efforts to reconstruct communities through community organizing severely affected by flooding in New Orleans in 2005, visited JWCU to learn about JWCU's reconstruction efforts.

On 16th, Mr. Rathke visited JWCU headquarters to exchange opinions with Yuzo Nagato (President of JWCU) and Toru Fujita (Vice President of JWCU) about reconstruction efforts of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the flooding in New Orleans.
After that, he visited JWCU Tohoku Reconstruction Head Office in Miyagi Prefecture to learn about situations in affected areas and JWCU's reconstruction efforts. The main challenge in New Orleans has been to create jobs, and he was very interested in how JWCU as worker coops creates jobs, what kind of jobs we try to create, and how we cooperates with communities and other organizations.

On 17th, he visited disaster areas, Ishinomaki and Onagawa (Miyagi Prefecture) for two projects by JWCUfs member coops: gPower of Mothersh Project and gForest for Everyoneh Project.

As Mr. Rathke said that reconstruction is a marathon, both of us still have a long way to go.  We hope to keep sharing our experiences and strengthen our partnership to build a gnew societyh together!

Our article about JWCU's reconstruction efforts was introduced in Social Policy magazine which Mr. Rathke publishes.
Please click here to read the full article.

Korea & Japan Youth Exchange Program
(October 12, 2012)
For the last two years, South Korean youth support organization "1318 Happy Zone" has been JWCU's great partner. This time, ten youth representatives who use (or graduated from) Happy Zone visited Tachibana Children's hall, which is located in Tokyo and run by JWCU members, on October 12th 2012 to exchange their experiences with Japanese youth.

They played dodge ball together, cooked Japanese and Korean dishes together (very delicious Korean and Japanese pan cakes and Toppogis!), and performed music and dance. They also exchanged gifts, including messages they wrote for each other on big clothes. With simple Korean and Japanese vocabulary notes, the young participants also tried to make conversation with each other. At the end of the dinner, they all sang "Country Road" together, accompanied by Korean and Japanese leaders' guitars, electric piano and tambourine.
We hope that these young people will become the future "goodwill ambassadors" who will build friendly relationships between the two countries.
Chinese Worker Coop Leader Visited JWCU
(September 5, 2012)
On September 5th 2012, Mr. Zhendong Song, Vice Chair of International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC-Gun Ho) visited JWCU headquarters and met with Yuzo Nagato, JWCU President.

While it was the first time for the leaders of these two organizations to meet, it was found that they did have some common ground. For example, one of the former JWCU leaders had been involved in worker coop movement in China, and members of Japanese older persons' coops visited China to hold a fashion show. On the other hand, Mr. Song studied at the University of Tokyo for three months and has extensive experiences with Japanese smaal and medium enterprises.
The meeting was the wonderful opportunity for the two organizations to build further relationships and to start working together to promote worker coop movement in Asian region.
Coop Leaders from Tanzania Visited JWCU
(September 4, 2012)
On September 4th 2012, Four cooperative leaders from Tanzania visited JWCU as a part of the joint initiative by Japan Consumers' Cooperative Union (JCCU) and ILO Cooperative Facility for Africa Programme (Coop AFRICA) to assist the African cooperative movement in strengthening its capacity.

They first visited JWCU headquarters, and JWCU president welcomed the delegates. They seemed to be quite interested in the "new" way of working as worker cooperative. Tanzania has serious problems with unemployment, particularly among young people. There are also a number of homeless people and street beggars. The concept of worker coops seemed to give hope for these people to create their own jobs that will also benefit their communities.
The delegates also actively asked questions such as: how to prepare the initial capital and how to build relations with local municipalities.

The lunch was held at one of JWCU member organizations "Cafe Mamenoki" which is run by people with and without disabilities.

JWCU would like to thank the delegates for visiting us, and JCCU and Coop AFRICA for arranging this wonderful program. It was such a great honor to have these leaders from Tanzania, and we hope we can stay in touch!
JWCU Welcomed Government Officials from Cambodia
(August 24, 2012)
A group of government officials from Cambodia visited one of our business sites, Tofu Kobo (Tofu Workshop) in Fukaya-city, Saitama Prefecture, to learn about efforts of community development in rural areas in Japan as a part of the training program of Gender Mainstreaming Project which Japan International Agency (JICA) has provided in Cambodia.

Our members of Tofu Kobo showed the delegates how to cook tofu, and the delegates enjoyed tofu tastings. After the demonstration, the director of Tofu Kobo explained about a workers coop, its business activities, history, advantages of starting a business as a workers coop and operating system.
The delegates were very concerned about a cooperative business model and raised several questions, such as membership, capital contribution, cooperative management etc.

We would like to thank JICA and Value Planning International, Inc. for organizing this visit.
We hope that their visit was helpful for them to promote women's empowerment in Cambodia.
JWCU Welcomed Gwang Ju NGO Civic Foundation from South Korea
(July 19, 2012)
A group of leaders from Gwang Ju NGO Civic Foundation (South Korea) visited Japan to learn about civic movement in Japan from July 17th to 21st 2012.

On July 19th, JWCU was honored to have them at one of our sites: Kami-Shirane Community House, a community center located in Yokohama, Kanagawa.

The member from Kanagawa Region and the director of Kami-Shirane Community House gave an overview of JWCU and talked about activities in the community house.
The delegates were very interested not only in workers' cooperatives and associated work, but also in relationship with communities, such as how to cooperate with and involve communities.

JWCU would like to thank the delegates for visiting, and Mr. Hyo-Woo Na from GOOD TRAVEL, Ms. Junk Kikkawa and Ms. Seung-Won Kim from the Hope Institute for coordinating the visit.

We hope that their visit was helpful for them to further promote civic movement in Gwang Ju.
JWCU Delegates Attended US Worker Cooperative Conference
(June 22-24, 2012)
JWCU was invited to US Worker Cooperative Conference that was held from June 22nd to 24th in Boston.

At the plenary session on June 24th, we made a presentation "Building a worker cooperative movement: Japan's experience," introducing JWCU, its members' activities, reconstruction efforts since the disaster in 2011, legislative movement and lessons from our 30 years of experience.

We also learned a lot about US worker cooperatives, including a wide range of business activities and issues they are facing. We are also very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the conference participants!
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow cooperators in US, share experiences, and build networks. It seems that we share a lot of commonalities, including business activities (e.g. cleaning, home care) and challenges (e.g. legislation, social recognition, etc.). There must be a lot of things we can learn from each other.

We would like to thank US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), the conference organizers and all the participants for the wonderful jobs and hospitality, and we look forward to building further partnerships!

Please click here for our presentation slides.
33rd JWCU General Assembly:
Reconsidering Our Missions as Associated Workers' Cooperatives in Revolutionary Times
(June 8-9, 2012)
JWCU's 33rd general assembly was held on June 8th and 9th in Kagoshima Prefecture (southwestern part of Japan).

During the assembly, our members shared our achievements, discussed roles as worker cooperatives and reconsidered our missions through lessons from reconstruction efforts, which are to build the society where citizens themselves can create their own jobs and build their own communities in cooperation and solidarity with various actors.
At the general assembly, the ten-year comprehensive strategy was presented and approved. The four pillars of the strategy are as follows:
  • - To clarify our social missions as associated workers' cooperatives
  • - To aim for the citizen-centered welfare society and the society where all people have opportunities to work
  • - To lobby for appropriate legal systems (including having the worker coop law approved) and public job assistance systems
  • - To aim for having over 200 billion yen annual turnover, 100,000 worker-members and business establishments in 1,000 municipalities by 2025

JWCU was deeply honored to receive many messages from our global friends. Again, JWCU would like to thank all the organizations and people that sent us kind messages for our general assembly.
Regional Director of ICA-AP Visited JWCU
(January 11, 2012)

Dr. Chan-Ho Choi, Regional Director of ICA-AP, and Mr. Rangan Dutta, Senior Consultant who engage in cooperative legislation and policy, visited JWCU on January 11th, 2012.

The main purposes of this visit were firstly to develop a face-to-face relationship, secondly to listen to opinions from JWCU regarding how ICA can specifically support JWCU, and thirdly to collect information and exchange opinions concerning the legislation of workersf co-operative in Japan.

In the 3-hour meeting, (Mr.) Nagato (president of JWCU) emphasized the need to reconsider the meaning of work among the whole co-operative members. Then, he requested ICA to deal with labor issues as issues of basic rights and right to live, and Dr. Choi offered a positive response.

As for the draft law on Associated Workersf Co-operatives, (Dr.) Shimamura (Senior Vice President of Worker Cooperative Legislation Civic Council)
presented several points in the ongoing discussion.

Mr. Dutta said that there would need to be a new framework law for JWCU which has been making efforts of gbuilding a better societyh in addition to traditionally main efforts of gmutual cooperation among membersh, and ICA would like to support the approval of the workersf cooperative law in Japan.

For further development of workersf cooperatives in Asia in the future, it would be more important to cooperate with international organizations such as ICA.

We hope to further strengthen international solidarity in the International Year of Cooperatives and beyond.

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