【Beat Covid-19!】Japanese Cooperatives’ Efforts to Combat Covid-19 (Summary Report Ver.2)
We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to those who are still being affected by Novel Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19). We would also like to continue to pay our respects to those who are working hard day and night to protect people’s health and livelihood, especially for those who are engaged in medical and welfare services.
Local cooperatives are still working on Covid-19 to support local livelihoods and economies. We continue to report on those efforts in an overview following May 18. (This was compiled by the JCA based on information provided by national cooperative organizations of various sectors that are members of the JCA.
- JA Group (Agricultural Cooperatives)
◆Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-ZENCHU)
JA Group’s hospitals run by prefectural federations have been working hard to provide medical care for people infected with Covid-19. In order to protect local medical care, JA-ZENCHU is conducting a fund-raising campaign by members, officers and employees of JA Group to support those hospitals and to secure protective equipment to create an environment in which medical workers can perform their duties with peace of mind. For more information on the JA Group’s Community Medical Support Fund, click here.
https://org.ja-group.jp/donation/ (Japanese only）
In addition, JA-ZENCHU published the following on its website
“Case study of JA Group organizations under the spread of Covid-19“, 14 May 2020
“JA Group’s own efforts to increase consumption”, 14 May 2020
Furthermore, JA-ZENCHU set up the JA Group Agricultural Recruiting Portal Site, which brings together job sites of JA groups in the prefecture to respond to the labor shortage in agriculture. The portal site is as follows
https://agri.ja-group.jp/support/jobsite (Japanese only)
◆National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations (ZEN-NOH)
As a measure to increase consumption of domestic agricultural and livestock products, ZEN-NOH, which is in charge of sales business, is offering free shipping on 450 items such as wagyu beef, fruits, dairy products and flowering plants on the mail-order site “JA Town,” which is experiencing a marked decline in demand due to the new corona. The site is as follows:
https://www.ja-town.com/shop/e/ejaouen/ (Japanese only)
◆IE-NO-HIKARI Association (Association for Education and Publication on Agricultural Co-operatives)
The IE-NO-HIKARI Association, which publishes “IE-NO-HIKARI”, “CHIJO”, and other magazines for JA members, has the following special website titled “Beat Covid-19 in Ie-Katatsu!” The website offers useful information in seven categories based on articles from its own magazines.
http://www.iekatsu.net/ (Japanese only)
◆Nokyo Tourist Corporation (Ntour)
Ntour updated its own guidelines based on the “Guidelines for gradual easing of self-restraint of nonessential outing” announced by the government. In addition, Ntour created an easy-to-understand, visualized material of its countermeasure for Covid-19 based on the guideline of the Japan Association of Travel Agents, which is also used for customers.
- Consumer Cooperatives Group
◆Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union (JCCU)
Local co-ops are carrying out a wide range of initiatives such as support for dairy farmers affected by the suspension of school lunches, campaigns to promote the use of local products in areas where demand is sluggish, support for food banks and children’s cafeterias, support for delivery of handmade masks to health and welfare co-ops, support for living at home through a special website, donations to support for medical institutions, community chests, and UNICEF. JCCU conducted a second survey on Covid-19 to find out about changes in lifestyles and purchasing activities such as the use of home deliveries due to the new corona, and published the preliminary results on its website. The preliminary results are available on the following website.
https://jccu.coop/info/newsrelease/2020/200604_01.html (Japanese only)
◆National Federation of University Co-operative Associations (NFUCA)
In order to understand the actual situation of university students who are members of university co-ops under this situation and to support the improvement of university life, NFUCA conducted a second “Emergency survey for undergraduate students” and the results are available on its website. The respondents expressed their concerns about the decrease in part-time income, their opinions about online classes, and their anxiety about job hunting. The preliminary results are below.
https://www.univcoop.or.jp/covid19/recruitment/index.html (Japanese only)
3．Cooperatives in the Health and Welfare Field
◆The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (JAs) for Health and Welfare
Hospitals run by prefectural federations across the country have been accepting patients with Covid-19 and conducting PCR testing on an outpatient basis. In addition, JA groups and related organizations over the country have donated various supplies such as masks, protective equipment, and food for workers, taking into account the shortage of these supplies at each prefecture’s federation. However, because of the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic, there are concerns that the business may deteriorate due to the postponement of scheduled hospitalizations, reduction of general outpatient clinics, and postponement of routine medical examinations.
◆The Japan Culture and Welfare Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives
“Emergency hospital management survey” revealed that hospital management has deteriorated significantly, particularly in hospitals that have received patients with Covid-19.
In addition, amidst the difficult distribution situation for infection-prevention products, the federation has made efforts to minimize price increases through joint purchasing operations and to ensure a stable supply of products that maintain quality. The federation is also considering future measures to deal with the stable supply of PB products through pre-order purchasing.
- Cooperatives in the Finance Field
◆The Norinchukin Bank
JA Bank (the credit business sector of the JA Group) and JF Marine Bank (that of the Fisheries Cooperative Group) started offering low-interest loans as part of their financial support for loans and investments, and have responded to consultations on changes in repayment terms for existing loans. The Norinchukin Bank have provided cash flow support to agricultural corporations through the emergency fund for countermeasures to combat Covid-19. As for non-financial responses, the Bank have helped agricultural corporations reduce excess inventory by securing their sales channels for agricultural and livestock products in cooperation with other JA groups.
- Cooperatives in the field of Mutual Insurance
◆National Mutual Insurance Federation of Agricultural Co-operatives (Zenkyoren)
While expanding the scope of mutual aid payment targets, postponing lump sum payments and providing special loans, Zenkyoren donated masks and face shields to medical and nursing care workers as a new community contribution activity. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Zenkyoren produced content aimed at expanding the consumption of domestic agricultural and livestock products and promoting food education, and disseminated information through social networking services and IE-NO-HIKARI magazine. As measures for staying home, a website was opened to the public with useful contents for home time, contents introducing “Rainbow Exercises for Parents and Children” and video contents on “Fall Prevention Exercises” to prevent nursing care.
◆Japan Co-op Insurance Consumers’ Co-operative Federation (JCIF)
For the sake of patients with Covid-19, the grace period for payment of premiums for mutual aid has been extended again and the scope of coverage for hospitalization mutual aid payments has been expanded. JCIF decided to treat Covid-19 as an accidental infection.
- Fisheries Co-operatives and Forest Co-operatives
◆National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations (JF Zengyoren)
Fish prices have fallen about 30% across the country due to a drop in demand as restaurants and other businesses refrained from operating. JF Zengyoren, while requesting support from the government, has been conducting various sales activities and production measures, including (1) sales at purchasing sites such as the “Fresh Fish Box”, (2) sales at direct sales sites during the temporary closure of fishery cooperative cafeterias, (3) sales of fresh fish at the urban grocery store “Junpachi Grocery Store” (Aggregate Co., Ltd.), and (4) trial cultivation of brown seaweed in Hiuchinada (northern Shikoku waters).
◆National Federation of Forest Owners’ Co-operative Associations （JForest）
JForest conducted a survey to member organizations regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the forestry and timber industries. Based on the requests and reports from these members, JForest requested a supplementary budget to the ruling party and government along with other needs such as (1) measures against imported logs, (2) concentrated implementation of nursery tree thinning and other measures, (3) promotion of road network development. As a result, (1) support for the cost of log storage for export and other financial measures, and (2) expansion of support for the cost of storing domestic timber and fixed-rate subsidies for other project expenses were implemented.
(posted on 25 June 2020 in Japanese)