JA GROUPAbout the JA GroupThe JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives) Group, to which Zenkyoren belongs, is a national organization of farmers established in accordance with the Agricultural Cooperative Society Law. Based on a spirit of mutual aid, the JA Group undertakes cooperative business and other activities, for the purpose of enhancing agricultural operations and improving the standard of living among farmers. The JA Group provides its members with five essential services: insurance, guidance, credit, marketing and purchasing, and welfare.The agricultural cooperative system previously featured a three-tiered structure organized on local, prefectural and national levels. Under this system, prefectural federations provided local agricultural cooperatives (primary societies) with supplementary functions, by conducting activities that the primary societies themselves were unable to perform. The national federation provided complementary functions to support the prefectural federations and make the Group’s activities more effective.To cope with intensified global competition, the JA Group is reforming the organization and its business operations, with the aim of further improving agricultural operations and the living standard of farmers in years to come. Integration of prefectural and national federations and the consolidation of local primary societies are being encouraged as a way to enhance the functionality and effectiveness of the three-tiered organizational structure.The JA Cooperative Insurance BusinessThe JA Group’s agricultural cooperative insurance business offers products and services designed to protect members’ well-being, provide financial security, and improve their lifestyles.In April 2000 Zenkyoren (then a national federation only) merged with prefectural insurance federations, thus forming a two-tiered operation with each tier performing distinct functions. This merger further tightened the bonds between Zenkyoren and primary societies. It also reduced operating costs while giving members better services and a greater sense of security.The primary societies provide customers with consulting services and communicate directly with members in response to claims.The primary societies and Zenkyoren jointly underwrite insurance policies.Division of Roles Between Primary Societies and ZenkyorenPrimary Societies (Agricultural Cooperatives):At the local level, the primary societies provide direct liaison with members and handle policy administration, processing and contract maintenance, as well as the payments of claims. They also provide members with various kinds of information related to the purchase of cooperative insurance policies.Zenkyoren:Zenkyoren’s services can be divided roughly into four areas. Together, these services provide comprehensive security to policyholders.(1) Protection against risks, and money-saving functions(2) Finance-related services(3) Information services(4) Welfare servicesThe national headquarters of Zenkyoren engages in a wide range of agricultural cooperative insurance activities that include planning and management, product development, underwriting, and providing information and materials for sales promotion, as well as planning and execution of public relations activities. The national headquarters also manages investment funds, develops and operates information systems, holds educational and training programs, and conducts welfare activities. In addition, it supports the payments of claims performed by the prefectural headquarters.Zenkyoren’s prefectural headquarters support various activities carried out by the primary societies, and also play a pivotal role in payments of claims.02 ANNUAL REPORT 2012