(The Japan Agricultural News: February 16, 2016 – p. 2)
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has repeatedly called for placing the JA (agricultural cooperatives) group’s credit business and insurance cooperative programs under the supervision of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and strengthening restrictions. Following the issuance of such a position paper in May 2014 immediately before full-fledged discussions on agricultural reform, the ACCJ submitted a similar position paper early this year as well. While giving “high marks” to agricultural reform, the ACCJ urges the government to look into further measures, pointing out that restrictions on the use of aid programs by quasi-members have not been implemented.
The ACCJ released its position paper regarding Japan’s insurance cooperative system in
mid-January. The position paper said that “the ACCJ highly values that the Abe administration implemented large-scale reform of JA for the first time.” However, the paper raises questions about the government’s regulatory reform panel’s recommendation in May 2014, saying the government panel’s recommendation does not stipulate that “the use of insurance cooperative programs by quasi-members should not exceed 50% of the usage by regular members.”
The ACCJ then urged [the government] to offer “fair competitive conditions,” citing the JA insurance cooperatives and the present situation of insurance firms under the FSA’s supervision. Specifically, it called on the government to look into measures to eliminate or reduce the “provision of products to many unspecified people” and the concurrent operation of life and non-life insurance.
The ACCJ released a position paper “welcoming” the government panel’s recommendation also immediately after the panel put together its proposals. It called for stepping up the regulations on the usage of insurance cooperative programs by non-members and on the quasi-member system, insisting that regulations equivalent to those for financial organizations under the FSA’s supervision should be applied to the JA group.
Under such circumstances, during deliberations in the Diet on reform of the Agricultural Cooperative Law, there was a scene in which an opposition party member said the reason for pushing agricultural reform might be that the U.S. has been motivated to make inroads into the JA market.