"Toward the Further Development of Our Nation's Cooperatives and Cooperative Insurance"
At the beginning of 2013, it is my pleasure to offer all member societies New Year's greetings. First, I would like to thank the member societies and other parties concerned for the support and cooperation they have given regularly to JCIA's activities.
Although the New Year has started, the lives of the disaster victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear power plant accident that occurred in March two years ago have only just begun to be put back in order and the disaster-stricken areas restored.
Amid fears over the occurrence of another massive earthquake that may cause even larger-scale and more widespread damage, many people are concerned about their future lives.
Japan's economy and society is suffering from such serious problems as battered local economies and "muen shakai" (a society without relationships) caused by excessive market fundamentalism that has led to widening disparities in income and education as well as generation and regional gaps. While the ongoing preliminary talks for participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations may advance this market fundamentalism, public confidence in the social security system has been also lost due to the deterioration in the country's financial condition and political confusion and stagnation, causing further anxiety among the people.
The year 2012 was declared by the United Nations the "International Year of Cooperatives (IYC)" providing an opportunity for cooperatives to reconfirm their raison d'être and future potential and disseminate these to the Japanese society. All cooperative insurers collaborated to participate in these IYC activities and made efforts to convey to the society the significance of cooperative members helping one another to live safe and fulfilling lives. The message that "Cooperative insurance is people." put forth by JCIA in a newspaper advertisement last March was also impressive in describing concisely the principles of cooperatives. Furthermore, the realization by many people of the importance of "mutual aid and sympathy" and life security after the earthquake disaster has raised expectations that cooperative insurance will enable them to prepare for future uncertainty.
According to the "Cooperative Insurance Yearbook 2013 (Business Results in Fiscal 2011)" issued by JCIA, the number of members of primary cooperative insurers reached 73,330,000 and claims paid totaled 5,466.6 billion yen. Claims paid with regard to the Great East Japan Earthquake by JCIA member societies amounted to 885,000 payments totaling 1,119.1 billion yen as of the end of September, 2012. Cooperative insurance has become an essential part of the life plan of many cooperative members, and has also helped disaster victims to put their lives back in order.
Last year, JCIA marked the 20th anniversary of its establishment, and carried out commemorative projects with the cooperation of the member societies and other parties concerned. One of these projects was the JCIA Seminar, in which valuable reports and proposals were delivered by scholars on the nature and desirable way of developing cooperative insurance. The IYC efforts to raise awareness of cooperatives and promote the growth and cooperation of cooperatives will be continued by the organization succeeding the Japan National Planning Committee for IYC. While the true value of cooperatives and cooperative insurance continues to be tested, member societies continue to endeavor to carry out their social role and responsibilities as trustees of the cooperative insurance members by providing security that corresponds to the needs of the members and managing their operations with the aim of achieving stable performance from the position of the members such as through appropriate and prompt responses to claims.
In April this year, JCIA will move to become a general incorporated body, and enter the final fiscal year of its "Third Three-year Medium-term Plan." JCIA will steadily address such important matters as enhancing JCIA's unique research activities on cooperative insurance theory, practical training in cooperative insurance, public relations activities, etc., strengthening the system and expertise of the Customer Consultation Department as a certified ADR organization, and improving its response capabilities with regard to policy measures as represented by revision of the laws on cooperatives and contract laws and the review of international accounting standards. By so doing, JCIA will more than ever deepen its cooperation with the member societies and affiliated organizations, promote the further development of our country's cooperatives and cooperative insurance, and make efforts
to help put the lives of the disaster victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake back in order and restore the disaster-stricken areas together with the member societies and other parties concerned.
The journal "Cooperative and Commercial Insurance" will also make a new start as JCIA's self-published research journal in line with the review of the organization and operations of JCIA associated with the move to become a general incorporated body. While the journal will be published in tandem with enhanced research and public relations activities, JCIA will strive to provide useful plans and information suitable for the "Post IYC" efforts with the help of various writers and by obtaining the opinions of the readers.
Mr. Katsuto Uchihashi, who served as chairperson of the Japan National Planning Committee for IYC, has pointed out that the primary role of cooperatives is to lead the way towards a "secure society" by sharing social issues with local communities. To this end, cooperative insurance, whose mission is to "turn the anxiety of cooperative members into assurance and materialize this assurance by the payment of claims in the event that
something should happen," will have to play a core role.
This year also, we would appreciate your continued support and understanding in JCIA's activities and the publication of the journal.
Japan Cooperative Insurance Association Incorporated