Challenges of Co-operatives in the Japanese Third Sector

Author Name KURIMOTO Akira (Hosei University)
Creation Date/NO. March 2016 16-J-038
Research Project Research on the Liberalist Reforms of the Public-Private Relationship and the Establishment of the Third Sector in Japan
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This paper examines co-operatives' challenges in advancing the third sector in Japan, referring to the results of the study on the management capacity of the third sector organizations and reforms of public services. The notion of the third sector largely varies between the United States and Europe; the former identifies it with the nonprofit sector whereas the latter equates it to the "social economy" that includes co-operatives as major components. Why do the Japanese co-operatives have such low visibility despite their world class size, and why did the United Nations' declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives not provide an impact in Japan? This paper points to the weak identity of the co-operative sector since co-operatives have evolved quite differently due to a divided legal system and public policies. Finally, it proposes some recommendations for co-operatives to contribute to the third sector in Japan.