Statement by H. E. Mr. Kazuo Kodama
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Launch of the International Year of Cooperatives
31 October 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank His Excellency Mr. Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly, for his initiative in convening this meeting for theLaunch of the International Year of Cooperatives.
(Activities by Cooperatives in Japan)
The philosophy of cooperatives first emerged in the mid-19th century in Japan. Since 1900, when the Industrial Cooperative Law was enacted, agricultural producers (or farmers), forestry owners, fishermen, and consumers have organized cooperatives across the country.
Recently, cooperatives in Japan have been strengthening their roles in the public sphere, including in fields such as medical care, welfare and childcare assistance in addition to their traditional roles in economic fields such as agriculture, forestry, fishery, and banking.
At the international level, cooperatives in Japan have contributed to sustainable development in developing countries. One example is the development of agricultural cooperation in Asia, where the Institute for the Development of Agricultural Cooperation in Asia, established in Tokyo in 1963, has been operating with funds raised from agricultural cooperatives in Japan and also with the support of the Japanese Government.
The aims of this institute are to provide training and research services to those associated with the agricultural cooperative movement with a view to advancing the cooperative movement and thereby promoting socio-economic development, primarily for Asian countries.
This institute organizes various joint training courses entrusted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), which include the safety and quality management of agricultural products, the revitalization of local community by rural women and the foster of core leaders of agricultural cooperatives.
(Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction)
The Great East Japan Earthquake in March this year provides an opportunity to renew our belief about the important roles that cooperatives can play in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, as was mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report on Cooperatives in social development and implementation of the IYC (International Year of Cooperatives). Although cooperatives, especially agricultural and fisheries cooperatives in the area were severely hit by the calamity, with the spirit of mutual help, cooperatives throughout Japan carried out relief activities such as the provision of food, drugs, and other necessities, as well as thedispatch of medical doctors, nurses and volunteers to the devastated areas.
We would like to convey our sincerest gratitude to cooperatives around the world for their warm support provided to our country through the ICA.
(National Committee for IYC)
Following the United Nations declaration of 2012 on the International Year of Cooperatives, the “Japan National Planning Committee for International Year of Cooperatives 2012” was launched in August 2010 as a unified national body to pull resources and efforts together in making the IYC successful and fruitful.
The Committee consists of over one hundred people from various fields, including cooperatives, NGOs, academia, consumer organizations, media, and business organizations. The Committee aims to increase public awareness on the values and roles of cooperatives and to take measures to further promote the development of cooperatives. In preparation for the IYC, the Committee has already been working on the creation and distribution of information materials on the International Year of Cooperatives.
In 2012, the Committee is planning to hold several events in Japan, such as an opening event of the IYC in January, a Central Meeting for International Day of Cooperatives in July and a festival of cooperatives next fall.
In conclusion, we are hopeful that we can promote a greater awareness and understanding of cooperatives through the IYC and that cooperatives contribute to the sustainable development of the international community.