(Sankei: January 30, 2015 – p. 5)
At a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Jan. 30, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his strong determination to review the authority of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu) as part of efforts to reform agricultural cooperatives. Abe emphasized his intention to aim for abolishing JA-Zenchu’s authority to audit and supervise regional agricultural cooperatives.
With regard to the fact that Zenchu’s authority to audit and supervise local cooperatives is stipulated under the agricultural law, Abe stated at the committee session yesterday: “An organization that cannot operate without legal support is not self-reliant.” Therefore, dealing with the auditing and supervising authority has become the main issue in JA-Zenchu reform. Abe said: “I want JA-Zenchu to concentrate on supporting regional agricultural cooperatives and farming households.
Meanwhile, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party held a meeting of the project team to look into a bill to reform agricultural cooperatives at party headquarters on Jan. 29. The LDP started full-scale discussions based on information from relevant organizations, including Zenchu and the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA-Zennoh).
In the project team meeting yesterday, most members raised views opposing the removal of Zenchu’s authority to audit and supervise agricultural cooperatives, with one member saying, “Will the incomes of farming households increase if Zenchu’s authority is abolished?” Another member said, “The government should hear the views of regional agricultural cooperatives.” On the other hand, numerous members expressed their approval of abolishing the authority, with one member saying, “It will be good for individual agricultural cooperatives to be able to choose an auditing organization.”
In connection with restrictions on the use of JA by members who are not engaged in agriculture, which the government is considering, cautious views were raised, with one member saying, “In some regions, the only banking institution and supermarkets are those run by JA. We should consider things from the viewpoint of protecting the daily lives of residents.”