Work Together (Archive)

The cooperative movement in Japan: a fight against unemployment and poverty

18 December 2015

Aguriin, the cooperative, featured in CICOPA’s video “Working together for a cooperative future” is a biodiesel fuel (BDF) plant managed cooperatively and that employs young people with mental disabilities or difficulties to be socially involved. The cooperative is a part of the CICOPA member Japanese Worker cooperative Union (JWCU) and currently owns 4 BDF plants across the Japanese territories, the oldest one created in 2011 and the newest in 2015.

To combat the problem of poverty and unemployment among youth, JWCU had created a program called “Youth Independence School” that was government funded. The program that aimed to be a job support program for youth was shut down by the government due to lack of funding. Many of the young people in the program not only suffer with poverty and unemployment but can also be referred to as hikikomori, meaning a person that abnormally avoids social contact.

Because many of the young people in the school had not been able to find a job before the closing of the Youth Independence School, the JWCU created a program called Group Home that allowed the remaining graduates to find a job in stable living conditions. However this program was only temporary and no longer exists.

It is through these 2 programs that one of the young men in CICOPA’s working together for a cooperative future video, Ishii Daisuke, found a job in the cooperative Aguriin. He now works in one of the four plants, and is specialized in the collection of used oil to create biodiesel fuel. Depending on the plant, more or less oil is collected each day, the biggest plant collects 1,000 liters per day and the smallest 400 liters per day, and this oil is later processed. A process carried out by four worker members. This cooperative not only employs youth under 35 with mental issued or problems with social contact but also senior members. The biodiesel fuel produced is used by many in the locality such as bus companies and other enterprises.

Watch the full video “Working together for a cooperative future” and get to know some of its worker-members here