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2014年11月11日 (火)

農協自己改革案 全中の権限温存は許されない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Allowing JA Zenchu to retain grip over farm co-ops is not an option
農協自己改革案 全中の権限温存は許されない

The Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, or JA Zenchu, has released a proposal for reforming itself.
 全国農業協同組合中央会(JA全中)が、自己改革案を公表した。

The proposal calls for JA Zenchu to maintain its status under the Agricultural Cooperatives Law. It would not relinquish its authority to supervise about 700 local farm cooperatives across Japan.
 全中を従来通り、農協法に基づく組織とする方針を示した。全国に約700ある地域農協に対する監査の権限も手放さない。

Under these circumstances, JA Zenchu’s excessive intervention in these agricultural cooperatives would continue, and the enthusiasm of produce growers to boost their output would not increase. There would be little hope that attempts to promote “aggressive farming policies” through increased production would materialize.
 これでは、全中による地域農協への過度な介入が続き、生産現場の意欲は高まらない。生産性向上による「攻めの農業」の実現もおぼつかない。

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clearly spelled out his position when he stated, “The current Zenchu system based on the cooperatives law will not continue.”
 安倍首相は、「農協法に基づく現行の中央会制度は存続しない」と明言している。

We think the government should ignore this backlash from JA Zenchu, and decisively implement far-reaching reforms, including abolishing the central union organization.
 政府は、全中の巻き返しを認めず、中央会制度の廃止も含め、抜本的な改革を断行すべきだ。

Some members of the government are considering plans that would include revising the Agricultural Cooperatives Law and reorganizing JA Zenchu as an incorporated association.
 政府内では、農協法を改正し、全中を一般社団法人に改組する案などが検討されている。

At a press conference, JA Zenchu Chairman Akira Banzai insisted: “It is important that we remain positioned under the Agricultural Cooperatives Law. We will carry out organizational reforms by ourselves.”
 全中の万歳章会長は記者会見で、「農協法に位置づけられることが大事だ。改革は自らの手でやり遂げる」と強調した。

Banzai was apparently afraid that if JA Zenchu loses its legal authority over regional co-ops, its control over them would quickly evaporate.
 農協法に基づく地域農協への権限を失えば、支配力が一気に低下すると恐れているのだろう。

JA Zenchu was established after the end of World War II to support farm cooperatives with weak operating bases.
 全中は戦後、経営基盤の弱い農協を支援するため設立された。

Facelift not enough

However, there has been widespread criticism that JA Zenchu has stymied the freedom of these co-ops to make their own management decisions, through its business operations and accounting audits and management guidance of them, as well as by issuing orders that cover even such minute details as sales and stocks of fertilizer and equipment.
 だが、業務・会計監査と経営指導を通じて、肥料や機材の仕入れや販売など、細かい点にも注文をつけ、農協の自由な運営を損なっているとの批判が根強い。

In its reform proposal, JA Zenchu says it will end its “guidance” of regional cooperatives based on its legal authority, and instead hold “discussions” intended to support the creativity and ingenuity of individual co-ops. JA Zenchu is trying to give itself a new appearance.
 全中は改革案で、法的な権限に基づく地域農協への「指導」を取りやめ、各農協の創意工夫への支援を目的とした「相談」に衣替えするとしている。

Be that as it may, if these audits detect any problems, the cooperatives will have no option but to swallow the remedy put forward by JA Zenchu. As long as JA Zenchu wields the power to conduct such checks, it will effectively continue to guide the operations of cooperatives. We think these checks need to be made by external audits.
 とはいえ、監査で問題を指摘されれば農協は従わざるを得ない。全中が監査権を持つ限り、実質的な指導が続くことになる。外部監査に切り替える必要がある。

The reform proposal also makes no mention of a review of JA Zenchu’s levy system, through which it collects up to ¥8 billion annually from local co-ops and other bodies for its operating costs. We suspect JA Zenchu intends to preserve this hefty money-raising system, which takes the form of a levy to cover audit expenses.
 地域農協などから毎年80億円もの運営費を上納させる賦課金制度の見直しについても、改革案は言及していない。監査費用の徴収という形で多額の集金システムを温存するつもりなのだろう。

JA Zenchu’s own proposal attempts to water down the government’s efforts to reform agricultural cooperatives. Some Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers with ties to farm and forestry organizations are even maneuvering to fall into line with the JA Zenchu plan.
 政府の農協改革を「骨抜き」にしようとする全中の自己改革案に、自民党の農林関連議員らが同調する動きもある。

We think the government should revise the law to clearly dismantle the three main pillars that form the foundation of JA Zenchu’s power — its authority to conduct audits, issue guidance and collect money.
 政府は、全中の権力基盤を支える監査、指導、集金の3本柱を法改正で明確に取り払うべきだ。

Over the past 20 years, the amount of abandoned farmland and rice paddies has doubled, and income generated from agriculture has halved. And the graying of Japan’s farmers shows no sign of abating. The ability to earn money through farming must be increased by boosting the freedom of producers to manage their operations.
 過去20年間で耕作放棄地が倍増し、農業所得は半減した。農家の高齢化にも歯止めがかかっていない。生産現場の自由度を高めることで、農業の「稼ぐ力」を向上させねばならない。

Unless JA Zenchu is so thoroughly reformed that the changes would be tantamount to its abolition, attempts at the genuine revitalization of the nation’s agricultural sector will likely come to naught.
 全中を解体的に見直さなければ、肝心の農業再生も画餅に帰すことになろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 9, 2014)Speech

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