The History of Economic Thought
Online ISSN : 1884-7358
Print ISSN : 1880-3164
ISSN-L : 1880-3164
Teruo Ichiraku's Socioeconomic Thoughts and the Japanese teikei Movement Promoting Organic Agricultural Products
Shihoko Nemoto
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2021 Volume 63 Issue 1 Pages 1-22


This paper examined Teruo Ichiraku's(1906―1994)thoughts on co-operative societies and the economic aspects of his 'Ten Principles of teikei' formulated in 1978. Ichiraku held high-ranking positions in several co-operative organisations and founded the Japan Organic Agriculture Association in 1971. He was influenced by pre-Second World War Japanese cooperativism and peasantism. He found his co-operative ideal in the teikei system started by organic farmers and consumer groups, some of which were organised by Yoneo Okada, and supported it as an alternative to the capitalist market systems dominated by monetary values. The teikei system involves a direct partnership between producers and consumers, eliminating commercial distributions and building reciprocal face-to-face relationships. According to Ichiraku, Japanese agriculture was unjustly pulled into exchange economies by industrial policies after the Meiji Restoration. He argued that the agriculture sector should have the same footing as other sectors, and that agricultural products should not be commodities for anonymous individuals in the market for three reasons: food is a necessity; Japanese agriculture is practised by small families; and it doesn't allow farmers to determine the price, because the distribution processes are controlled by the commercial capitals. However, a personal relationship with partners enables the evaluation of agricultural products in use-value, independence from the price-determining features of commercial markets, and a 'no-lying' relationship with respect to the pricing and the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Ichiraku encouraged 'a face-to-face sympathy based on humanity,' which underlay the 'Ten Principles of teikei,' to control human greed within the framework of mutual assistance ― the requirement for realising 'a fair society.' Compared with Japanese peasantism, teikei's uniqueness is that it stimulated consumers to buy and support agricultural products based on mutual understanding and reciprocity.

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