The history of Japanese Consumers' Cooperative dates back to 1919. Japanese Cooperative Society was initiated during the era of Taisho democracy.
In 1919, the Katei Kobai (purchasing) Union was established in Tokyo. During the following year, 1920, the Kyoueki-sha Kobai Union was established, in Osaka, and in 1921 the Kobe Consumer Co-operative was also established in Kobe.
This outlines the starting history of the local retail consumer co-operatives. By entering the Showa period (1926), the strengthened economic control and the compulsory military drafts by war almost suffocated co-op.
After the end of the war in 1945, in the state of severe food shortage and exceptional inflation, co-ops were established once again across the country.
In 1947, about three million people became members nationwide. In 1948, the law for consumers' co-operative union was enacted and in 1951, Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union was established.
During 1950s, institutional co-ops were established across the country. During the years of steep economic growth in 1960s, the consumer movement against price inflations and harmful food additives was promoted.
Co-ops led the movement. Between the end of 1960s and 1970s, community residents organized citizen's retail consumer co-ops. These citizen's co-ops started non-store businesses such as joint purchasing and individual home deliveries.
Today, co-ops are an integral part of communities with 30% of all households in Japan belonging to a co-op.
History of consumer co-ops after World War II
|1948||Consumers' Livelihood Co-operative Society Law enacted.||2007||Revised Co-op Law adopted, and enforced in 2008.|
|1951||Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union (JCCU) established.||2008||Japan CO-OP Insurance Consumers' Co-operative Federation became independent from JCCU.|
|1960||JCCU launched the first Co-op brand product, "Co-op Butter."|
|1985||Number of co-op members exceeded 10 million.||2010||Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation became independent from JCCU.|
|1992||30th ICA General Assembly held in Tokyo.||2011||"2020 Vision of Japanese Co-ops" adopted.|
|1997||"The Ideal of Japanese Co-operative Movement for the 21st Century adopted.||2012||International Year of Co-operatives launched.|
Father of Japanese Co-operative Movement
Toyohiko Kagawa dedicated his whole life to the development of cooperative movements. He always stood on the front-line of social reform movements such as the movements for labors, farmers and universal elections.
He was always a pioneer. Kagawa was born in Kobe, in 1888. Studied in Tokushima junior-high school, Meiji Gaukin University, and Kobe seminary.
Then he continued his education in Princeton University, the USA, and Princeton seminary. In 1920, he established "Kobai Union Kyoeki-sha" in Osaka.
In 1921, he established Kobe Consumer Co-operative and Nada Consumer Co-operative (later they were merged and became Co-op Kobe) in Kobe. He also established many other coops such as Kyoto Consumer Co-operative, Tokyo Student's Consumer Co-operative and Tokyo Iryou (Medical) Consumer Co-operative.
In November 1945, just after the end of the war, he organized the "Japan Co-operative Union Association". In 1951, he founded the gJapanese Consumers' Co-operative Unionh. Until his death in 1960 at the age of 72, he had served as the chairperson.