Gender and Land Rights Database


Civil society and indigenous people’s organizations advocating for equality of land rights

- The Rural Women Empowerment and Life Improvement Association (WELI) was established in 1957. The Association is engaged in activities to improve the life and status of rural women. WELI has established the Training Institute for Life Improvement Techniques, which was donated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1958. The association publishes studies and data on rural women’s activities and promotes initiatives, such as national conventions for women engaged in agriculture, study groups on subjects related to the legal position of rural women and seminars.

- The Japan Family Farmers Movement Nouminren was founded in 1989 and has member organizations in all 47 prefectures and about 50 000 farmers membership. The aim of the organization is to establish independent agriculture-based family farming. The organization advocates the protection of the farmer’s right to hold land titles in order to improve farmers’ livelihoods. The organization also works to improve the status of rural women within the community and to support farmers’ successors.

Local decision-making organizations and women’s representation in them

- The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) are organizations established under the Agricultural Cooperative Law (32). As of 2008, 764 agricultural cooperatives or JAs were active throughout the country. JA provides guidance on agricultural production, on technologies and farm management to help members operate their farms more efficiently, and promote the development of agriculture in the communities. Members can jointly use machinery and facilities, and purchase production materials (31). JA branches located in urban areas also perform banking related activities such as accepting deposits, extending loans, remitting funds and other financial services. Insurance services are additional services provided by JA (32).

JA has its own women’s association. No discriminatory provisions preventing women’s participation in agricultural cooperatives are contained in the Agricultural Cooperative Law (34). However, female memebership is low and women represent only a small percentage of the board members at agricultural cooperative: women were 1.53 percent of board members in 2005, with a slight increase from 0.58 percent in 2001 (29).

- In 1954, the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives – JA-Zenchu - was established to guide and coordinate the country’s agricultural cooperative movement at the national level. JA-Zenchu activities include promoting awarenss of agricultural cooperatives among the general public; holding policy dialogues with the government; and monitoring agricultural and food supply policies at the international level.
The Prefectural Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives was established to carry out similar tasks at the prefectural or provincial level (32).

Legal Information and capacity development on land rights

- The Hokkaido Support Center for Prospective Farmers, established in 1995 by the prefectural government and municipalities in Hokkaido as well as other agriculture-related institutions and organizations, works as a support center for fostering and securing young farmers, including women, by providing various kinds of support service in coordination with Prospective Farmers Centers in other regions. The Prospective Farmers Center provides comprehensive support service to new farmers, including loans and educational training in technology acquisition and farm management.

- The Institute for the Development of Agricultural Cooperation, based in Tokyo, was set up in 1963 with funds raised among agricultural cooperatives and also with the support of the government, as an institution dedicated to nurturing leaders for agricultural cooperatives and those involved in the cooperative development. The aims of the institute are to provide training and research services thereby promoting the socio-economic betterment, mainly in developing countries. However, Japanese female leader have also taken part to training projects for rural women.

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography