Cooperatives are organizations that manage their operations in a long-term, multifaceted, and altruistic way, based on the principles of self-help and cooperation, with the aim of improving the livelihoods of their members. They are deeply involved in our lives in a broad range of areas, from primary through tertiary industries. In addition to agricultural, fisheries, and consumers’ cooperatives, there are approximately 32,000 business cooperatives consisting of small joint-stock corporations.
In a world in which excessive competition in the market economy can bring about global disruptions, such as the 2008 financial crisis, the role of cooperatives in providing fundamental support for local communities is growing more and more important. The Japanese government (in the online government magazine Highlighting Japan) has expressed its high regard for the role of cooperatives, noting, “The growth of cooperatives should be supported as much as possible to enable them to implement their community-based mutual-aid activities, which play an important role in the lives of the public, on an even wider scale.”