The passage of the worker cooperative bill in Japan is celebrated around the word

News | 14 December 2020
Passage of the worker coop bill in the House of Councilors in Japan on December 4th, 2020
A worker cooperative bill was passed by the Japanese House of Representatives on November 24th, followed by the House of Councilors on December 4th, with the agreement of all parties. The bill was submitted to the House of Representatives in June this year by 15 of its members with the support of 53 embers from parties across the political spectrum.

To date Japan has no single umbrella law for cooperatives, but specific laws for different cooperatives. Until the adoption of this bill, worker cooperatives were established under different laws, like SME cooperatives law. The new worker cooperatives bill provides a legal framework for worker cooperatives in which members do not only work for the organization but also make capital contributions and participate in democratic decision-making. Consisting of 171 articles, the bill underlines employment contracts that adhere to labour laws and labour standards.

In Japan, worker cooperatives largely focus on creating job opportunities including for socially disadvantaged people and responding to social needs of local communities (e.g. elder care, childcare, inclusion of persons with disabilities, and rural development). The Japanese Workers’ Cooperative Union (JWCU), the umbrella body for worker cooperatives in Japan, consists of 27 member organizations with more than 15,000 members nationwide.

On the occasion of the adoption of the new law, the previous president of JWCU Mr Yuzo Nagato noted: "We have developed our movements and businesses for more than 40 years without a law, and the tireless, daily practices in the workplaces for many years have eventually led to the passage of this great law”. Mr Nagato added that “this law is revolutionary in that it allows workers to unite and to organize in their own worker cooperatives and to contribute to the realization of sustainable and vibrant communities.”

The adoption of the bill has been celebrated across the world. ILO COOP sent a congratulatory message to the Japanese cooperative movement and the JWCU for the adoption of the law on Associated Labor Cooperatives after 22 years of advocacy. The passage of such a conducive law for cooperatives is often followed with an increase in the number of new cooperatives established. It is therefore likely that Japan will see an upsurge in the number of newly formed worker cooperatives in the coming years.