Japanese consumer co-operatives set out priorities for 2014

24 Feb 2014

Over 260 representatives from Japanese consumer co-operatives met in Tokyo to discuss the business plan and policy development for 2014.  Every year directors and chief executives from consumer co-operatives across Japan gather to set out their objectives for the coming year.

The meeting, which took place on 15 January, was jointly organised by the Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU) and the Japan Co-OP Insurance Consumers’ Co-operative Federation.

Speaking at the event, Asada Katsumi, President of JCCU, asked co-operatives to continue to exercise their power as a force for mutual help, in order to address the various social problems faced by the country.

The Japanese government has decided to increase the consumption tax from 5% to 8% on 1 April 2014 and it is likely to increase to 10% in October 2015. Japanese consumer co-operatives will be affected by this decision.

Responding to the rise in the consumption tax, the JCCU is taking measures to lower the cost price of its brand products and suppress the price rise. The increase in the consumption tax will determine an intensified price competition between retailers. Thus one of the key objectives of JCCU is to maintain the affordability of co-op products.

Among the first to offer support to the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami, co-operatives continue to support the reconstruction efforts, three years on from the Fukushima crisis.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, retail industries in Japan, which is the world’s third largest economy, have experiences a decrease in the number of customers, including consumer co-operatives.

To cope with these challenges, Japanese consumer co-operatives plan to deepen ties between co-ops and their members as well as the relationship between co-ops and their local communities. Delegates also discussed on the need to strengthen solidarity within regional federations, unifying policies regarding product development, merchandising and sales.

Another key objective for the coming year is to increase membership. In 2014 they forecast that more than two million members nationwide would be involved in various events. By expanding members’ participation in product development, the JCCU also aims to raise members’ loyalty for the products.

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