The Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, or JA Zenchu, is determined to implement reforms of the JA group by itself, Chairman Akira Banzai said in a recent interview.
“Agricultural cooperatives are autonomous and independent. We want to put the reforms into practice by ourselves,” Banzai said soon before he was elected for a new three-year term. “We will seriously listen to different opinions, but our idea is that we take our own responsibility.”
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reviewing the role and structure of JA Zenchu in order to change the country’s farming sector into a growth industry.
Asked about Japan’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Banzai said he hopes that a resolution by the Diet calling for maintaining tariffs on five key farm agricultural product categories, including beef and pork, will continue to be respected.
With the U.S. midterm elections taking place in November, JA Zenchu will keep careful watch for developments concerning the TPP negotiations, he said.
“There are still issues to be resolved, but my hope is that the parliamentary resolution will be observed,” Banzai said.
Regarding the Abe administration’s policy of promoting female employees to senior positions in the public and private sectors, Banzai said that at least 50 percent of JA branches nationwide have two or more women in director posts.
The farming industry will need the power of women more and more, and the JA group hopes this power will help strengthen its structural base, Banzai said.