The Basic Philosophy of Health and Welfare Co-ops

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

What is a Health and welfare co-op?

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

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

Health and welfare co-ops stand for 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 wholesome and cultured living (Article 25).
The views on health to which we give the greatest importance, are to change ourselves, to reach out to society and to 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 business and activities of health/nursing care and health promotion in order to promote better health in community as a whole.

Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation (HeW CO-OP JAPAN) is a member of Japan Joint Committee of Co-operatives (JJC), a national association of Japanese co-operatives that belong to International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

JJC was established in 1956 with the aim of promoting collaboration among co-operatives within Japan and across the globe. In addition to participation in the general assembly of ICA, JJC engages in a variety of collaborative and cooperative activities related to international efforts by co-operatives.
As of February 2016, JJC has 14 member organizations, including: JA-ZENCHU (Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives), JCCU (Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union), and NFUCA (National Federation of University Co-operative Associations).




Overall information on health and welfare co-operative

Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation consists of 111 health & welfare co-operatives.
Membership of the federation is 2.92 million in total,aggregate amount of investment is 83.3 billion yen and total sales amount is 333.2 billion yen (medical business is 264.4 billion yen, nursing care business is 66.4 billion yen).
Member co-ops of the federation manages 75 hospitals, 337 primary health care centers, 70 dentistry offices, 28 nursing care homes and 210 helper stations. Staffs of the federation are in total 37,437 in total.

    Year 2013 2014 2015
Organization Member co-ops 111 108 111
Membership (1,000 persons) 2,848 2,886 2,928
Investments (million yen) 75,874 791,587 83,319
Revenue Total sales amount (million yen) 319,557 325,640 333,260
Medical business (million yen) 257,182 261,786 264,477
Nursing care business (million yen) 60,918 62,489 66,444
Hospitals 77 76 75
Sickbeds (bed) 12,468 12,382 12,113
Primary health care centers 342 344 337
Dentistry (counted in health care centers) 70 70 70
Home-visit care stations 199 198 187
Nursing care
Nursing care facilities for aged people 25 25 28
Helper station 185 185 210
Ambulatory rehabilitation offices 164 174 169
Staff Staff in total (person) 34,857 35,875 37,437
Doctor 1,975 1,930 1,996
Dentist 237 224 229
Nursing staff (health nurse, birth attendant, nurse, assistant nurse) 12,297 12,207 12,478
Chemist 461 440 445
Nursing care staff 7,340 7,234 7,877
Others 12,547 13,840 14,412

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 business. The federation consists of 111 member co-ops and Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union (JCCU). The federation held a constituting convention on 6 July 2010, and commenced its business on 1 October 2010.

Outline of the federation:

Name Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation
Business commencement 1 October, 2010
Chairperson Takaaki Fujiwara
Member co-ops 112 co-operatives
(111 health and welfare co-ops, JCCU)
Sales amount 3984 million yen (April 2015 - March 2016)
Investment 615.1 million yen
Board members 37 directors
Head office 4th floor, Sankem Bldg., 25-1 Hyakunin-cho 3-chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073, JAPAN
Main business
  1. Recruitment and human resource development
  2. Publication and supplies
  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 supplies
  • Joint purchase of medical products and materials
  • Sale and repair of medical/nursing care equipment
  • Development and sale of health materials
  • Production and sale of publications
3. Education and training
  • Provision of correspondence courses, planning and provision 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

(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.