Annual Report2008

MESSAGE FROM THE MANAGEMENTShunichiro YasutaChairman of the Supervisory BoardAchieving Zenkyoren’s MissionCircumstances of Agriculture in Japan and Reforms of the JA Group Including ZenkyorenToday, the Japanese agricultural sector faces a wide array of issues to be addressed, including declining numbers of farmers and the increasingly advanced age of currently active farmers, and the decreasing revenue levels of farming households. Against this background, farmers’ livelihoods depend crucially on the results of negotiations at the World Trade Organization, as well as the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between Japan and other countries. We at the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) Group are being required to provide financial support for core farmers who join the government-run revenue compensation system (a management support program covering the full spectrum of agricultural produce categories). At the same time, global market prices of cereals have risen to very high levels as a combined result of a worldwide food shortage stemming from a number of factors, among which the growing use of bio-fuels looms large. Moreover, public concern over food safety is growing in Japan against the backdrop of the nation’s reliance on food imports from many countries, which are required to ensure a steady supply of food for the population.In these circumstances, the basic role fulfilled by Japan’s agricultural sector is becoming even more important. It is the crucial duty of the JA Group to work together to ensure that the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate is kept at a sufficiently high level, and also to meet the public’s demands for safety in the supply of agricultural produce and livestock. For more than half a century, basing its operations on the philosophy of mutual aid, Zenkyoren has sought – through the provision of comprehensive life security – to lay down the foundations that will enable its members and policyholders to enjoy secure and affluent lifestyles.Under increasingly difficult conditions for agriculture, the JA Group, including Zenkyoren, is committed to sustained and concerted reform of its operations. Keeping its actions in step with the JA Group, Zenkyoren is determined to continue its constructive efforts to reform itself and to improve all its business functions, in a bid to remain the insurance organization of choice for its customers. Strengthening Relationships of TrustAs an organization that has provided wide-ranging coverage for “life, homes, and automobiles” since its early days, Zenkyoren is a provider of comprehensive insurance.Thanks to our deep roots in regional society, we at Zenkyoren have made a contribution to building communities through our insurance activities. In the process, we have also built up relationships of trust with our members and policyholders. To further strengthen these relationships of trust and build long-lasting ties with all our customers and partners, we are conducting the 3Q Visit Project, person-to-person visits to all members and policyholders, through all JA local offices. In this way, we hope that our circle of partners will widen substantially to encompass all the next generation of Japan’s core farmers. The business environment within which Zenkyoren operates is changing rapidly and dramatically, but we will continue doing our best to provide services that meet the wide-ranging needs of our members and customers. At the same time, we will ensure strict legal compliance, conduct our business activities with care and sincerity, and help free our policyholders of financial worries.- Shunichiro Yasuta, Chairman of the Supervisory BoardBuilding Closer Ties with Our Members and Customers through 3Q Visit ProjectANNUAL REPORT 20082