JA, short for Japan Agricultural Cooperation, is one of the most successful agricultural cooperatives in Asia. The history of JA can be traced back to the “Ancestor Share Association” of the Edo Period around 1850s and the “Fellowship Association” of the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century. These associations were responsible for centralized procurement of production materials, circulation of production capitals, and sales of agricultural products. They are considered as the embryonic form of today’s JA Group.
In November 1947, based on the ideological of the Rochdale Principle, Japan enacted Agricultural Cooperatives Act, stipulating that farmers can fund for, govern, utilize and enjoy the fruits and benefits of their cooperatives. By the end of 1950, 99% of Japanese farmers joined JA, forming a set of complicated and highly organized system from local to central level.
JA is responsible for a wide range of tasks, including agricultural management and livelihood guidance, sales of agricultural products, agricultural resources services, credit and insurance services, provision of facilities and equipment, and medical & welfare services for the elderly.
JA’s agricultural activities can not be carried out without participation of agricultural associations at all levels, as they process, store and distribute important agricultural products. They also offer over 70% of the production and living materials needed by the farmers, and the funds needed by farmers are mainly provided by their credit departments. JA always plays a vital role in Japanese agriculture and rural areas, contributing greatly to the development of the Japanese economy.