Early-Career Scholar Forum

The Formation and Development of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives

Friday, 29 January 2021 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Kawaguchi Hirofumi Project Researcher, UTokyo Graduate Schools for Law & Politics
  • Tamaruya Masayuki Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, The University of Tokyo
Event Description

Political scientists have analyzed how war contributes to state formation and development. In a defeated country, however, such a wartime legacy is difficult to inherit due to a postwar regime change. To understand how this difficulty is overcome, Japan after WWII, which experienced the drastic reform under the postwar occupation by the United States, is analyzed here. As an example of a wartime legacy that was not eliminated despite the postwar reform, this work focuses on farmers’ organization in 20th-century Japan. Beginning with the prewar era, I examine the government mobilization of farmers during WWII and its inheritance to Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA), which has been the most politically influential and widely organized farmers’ group in contemporary Japan. I also analyze its development in the 1950s and 60s. Delving into the wartime institution’s survival leads to finding that two factors had a positive influence. The first factor is the farmers’ group’s relationship with political actors outside the government, such as opposition parties and other farmers’ groups. The second factor is the efforts of the farmers’ group to achieve its member’s loyalty. This study contributes to a deeper understanding of a wartime legacy’s survival. It also has implications on studies in Japanese politics, reconsidering the literature’s assumption of JA’s close relationship with the Liberal Democratic Party and shedding light on hitherto neglected non-economic aspects of JA.