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For the memory of Johnston Birchall

Mr. Akira Kurimoto, Senior Fellow, Japan Co-operative Alliance, wrote the following obituary on Prof. Johnston Birchall who passed away in early June.

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The Japanese co-operators express deep gratitude to Johnston Birchall for giving such a wonderful inspiration to so many co-operators and researchers worldwide.  We share the sad feeling when we heard about his passing.

We translated Johnston’s volumes published in commemoration of historical events; Co-op – The People’s Business (1994) for the 150th anniversary of the Rochdale Pioneers Society and The International Co-operative Movement (1997) for the centenary of the ICA. We also translated his joint paper with Lou Hammond Ketilson for the ILO “Resilience of the co-operative business model in time of crisis” (2008) that seemed to be one of triggers of the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC). His report on “The Governance of large co-operative businesses” (2017) and his paper with Richard Simons on the case of the Co-operative Group (2014) were translated as well. These books and papers have given great inspiration and learning to the Japanese co-operators. I might say he has made a tremendous contribution to the international co-operative movement lasting for decades to come.

Johnston visited Japan under the invitation of Meiji University and gave a lecture for the Robert Owen Association of Japan in 1998.  He was invited by the Consumer Co-operative Institute of Japan to give lectures commemorating the IYC in Tokyo and Kyoto in 2012.  I have often met him at the ICA CCR conferences.  When I visited his former house, we climbed the nearby hill in the 1990s. He invited me to his new house at Glendevon before the CCR Conference held in Stirling in 2017.  But soon after my visit, I was informed on his disease. Johnston kindly answered my inquiries from time to time but our communication became rare. Now I pray for peace of his mind.