The Basic Philosophy of Health and Welfare Co-ops

Health and welfare co-ops promote health and create a peaceful and lively society.
In order to realize this philosophy;

What is health and welfare co-op?

A health and welfare co-operative is an autonomous organization, founded under the Consumers' Livelihood Co-operative Society Law, where local residents deal with issues related to their health and everyday life. Health and welfare co-ops own and operate medical-care and nursing-care facilities. They also conduct businesses and activities to solve problems by facilitating cooperation between local residents and staff who are both supporting co-ops as members.

Health and welfare co-ops' values and views on health

Health and welfare co-ops stand on the principle of self-determination and popular sovereignty as the basic principle of modern civil society and the Japanese Constitution. Health and welfare co-ops establish the sovereignty of health to embody the principle of self-determination and popular sovereignty. This allows them to realize a society which guarantees the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution), pacifism (Article 9), and the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living (Article 25).

The views on health to which we give the greatest importance are to change ourselves, reach out to society, and cooperate with other people in order to enjoy a happy and active life and have a better tomorrow. On the basis of these values and views on health, we conduct our businesses and activities of health/nursing care and health promotion in order to promote health in the whole community.




Overall information on health and welfare co-operative

Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation consists of 105 health and welfare co-operatives. The total membership is 2.96 million, the total share capital is 84.8 billion yen, and the total business turnover is 349.8 billion yen (medical business: 270.9 billion yen, welfare business:72.0 billion yen).

Member co-ops of the federation manages 75 hospitals, 333 primary health care centers, 75.0 dental facilities, 24 nursing care facilities for the elderly, 185 visiting care stations, and others. The total number of staff is 39,565.

    Year 2017 2018 2019
Organization Member co-ops 105 105 105
Membership   (1,000 persons) 2,966 2,972 2,969
Share capital   (million yen) 84,865 85,088 84,887
Turnover Total business turnover   (million yen) 343,060 347,091 349,887
- Medical business   (million yen) 267,915 271,416 270,924
- Welfare business   (million yen) 69,781 70,752 72,030
Hospitals 75 75 75
Hospital beds   (bed) 11,814 11,965 12,300
Primary health care centers 344 345 333
Dental facilities 73 79 75
Home-visit nursing stations 175 175 179
Nursing care facilities Nursing care facilities for the elderly 27 24 24
Visiting care stations 196 195 185
Day rehabilitation facilities 161 167 168
Staff Staff in total 37,671 39,320 39,565
- Doctors 2,019 2,099 2,092
- Dentists 236 262 235
- Nursing staff
(health nurses, birth attendants, nurses, assistant nurses)
12,542 12,802 12,828
- Pharmacists 466 468 472
- Nursing care staff 7,829 8,298 8,257
- Others 14,579 15,391 15,680

Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation

"HeW CO-OP JAPAN" is a national federation of health and welfare co-operatives that engage in health and welfare businesses. The federation consists of 104 member co-ops and Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union (JCCU). The federation held a inaugural meeting on 6 July 2010, and commenced its business on 1 October 2010.

HeW CO-OP JAPAN is a member of international organizations such as the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO), and the Asia Pacific Health Co-operative Organization (APHCO). In Japan, HeW CO-OP JAPAN is a member of Japan Co-operative Alliance (JCA), an apex organization of Japanese co-operatives.

Outline of the federation:

Name Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation
Business commencement 1 October 2010
President Jun Takahashi
Member co-ops 105 co-operatives
(104 health and welfare co-ops, JCCU)
Revenue 3,025 million yen (April 2019 - March 2020)
Share capital 614.9 million yen
Board members 37 directors
Head office 5th floor, Sankem Bldg., 25-1 Hyakunin-cho 3-chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073, JAPAN
Main businesses
  1. Recruitment and human resource development
  2. Publication and supply
  3. Education and training
  4. Contracted services
  5. Leasing and rental services
  6. Intermediary service
  7. Guidance
Business Content of business and services
1. Recruitment and human
resource development
  • Recruitment: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and care workers
  • Production of recruitment materials and pamphlets
  • Training programs to develop family physicians, supervisory physicians, and home care physicians
2. Publication and supply
  • Joint purchase of medical products and materials
  • Sale and repair of medical/nursing care equipments
  • Development and sale of health materials
  • Production and sale of publications
3. Education and training
  • Provision of correspondence courses, planning and implementation of workshops
4. Contracted services
  • Shared use of membership management systems, dispatching instructors
  • Development of websites and digital signage
5. Leasing and rental
  • Car leasing
  • Rental services: beds, AED, etc.
6. Intermediary service
  • Intermediary service for membership management systems, etc.
7. Guidance
  • Internal control, management improvement

Member participation improves the quality of health/nursing care services

The Health and Welfare Co-op' s Charter of Life is the code of conduct for health and welfare co-ops. It clearly indicates that, where health/nursing care is provided, local members as service users and health/nursing care staff as service providers think and act together. The Charter stresses that users and staff are equal terms as members while respecting each other' s different positions as users and staff. Users and staff, both are members, improve the quality of health/nursing care services through cooperation with each other rather than through the provider-centered approach. This cooperative practice by health and welfare co-ops has drawn academic interest as "co-production".

Health promotion activities by members


In Japan, while health/nursing care services are provided through the national insurance system, preventive health care has not been adequately provided. In order to improve this situation, members of health and welfare co-ops have engaged in voluntary preventive health practice since the 1960s. Han-groups are the units for voluntary preventive health practice by members.

A Han-group is a basic unit of health and welfare co-ops, each consisting of three or more members. At each Han-group, resident members check their blood pressure, urine and body fat with cooperation of professional members in health care and welfare. The members also learn such subjects as diseases (cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer' s disease, etc.) and risk factors (stress, diet, drinking, smoking, etc.). Some Han-groups also engage in activities such as exercise and congregate meals. What is unique about health promotion by health and welfare co-ops is: "People get together in their neighborhood and actively engage in programs while receiving help from professionals." Resident members learn such skills as measuring blood pressure and body fat at Han-group meetings and Health College provided by health and welfare co-ops. These trained resident members provide health checks for local residents at super markets, public places, as well as health festivals organized by municipalities. On World Health Day (April 7) proposed by World Health Organization (WHO), health and welfare co-ops nationwide provide health checks in the street. High blood pressure is believed to be the most common lifestyle disease in Japan. There are 43 million patients and additional 7 million people at risk, meaning that this condition affects a total of 50 million people. One in every two Japanese and 2/3 of those aged 65+ have high blood pressure. Prevention is essential since high blood pressure can lead to fatal conditions such as stroke, heart attack and kidney diseases. Health and welfare co-ops actively promote low-sodium diets to prevent high blood pressure. Results of the members' longstanding efforts in health promotion have been put together as "8 healthy habits and 2 health indicators," the members' goals for the healthy lifestyle.

Health and welfare co-ops' goals for 8 healthy habits and 2 health indicators

8 healthy habits

(1) have an orderly lifestyle and sleep well, (2) manage your stress and get enough rest, (3) quit smoking, (4) avoid excessive drinking, (5) continue regular exercise, (6) have balanced meals with less sodium and fat, (7)have breakfast and avoid snacks between meals,and (8) brush teeth thoroughly at least once a day.

2 health indicators

(1) maintain healthy weight, body fat and waist size, and (2) strive for the healthy blood pressure.