Fisheries women groups in Japan: a shift from well-being to entrepreneurship

Women’s groups in rural fishery areas were established in the mid-1950s. By 1959, they became integrated in local Fishery Cooperative Associations as parallel organizations. These Fisheries Cooperative Associations, established in 1948, represent all fishers in Japan, who are primarily men. The purpose of the women’s groups was to provide well-being by improving the living conditions of families and communities. While men were busy building the production facilities and the cooperatives, women organized themselves to protect and improve the everyday life of families. From 1995 and the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, some of these women groups ran economic entrepreneurial activities with the financial support of the State through the cooperatives. This new role of women’s groups aims to improve the economic and social development and environment of families and communities facing depopulation problems who need to increase the number of young people. This paper examines the role of cooperative associations in rural, fishery communities and shows how these associations “handed over” the social responsibilities to the women groups who then developed their social skills and competences. Special emphasis is put on how the women groups changed their activity from social issues to environmental protection, promotion of fishery products, and to entrepreneurial activities. The paper also problematizes the difficulties the women met in order to get their contribution to the fisheries communities and industry recognized, as well as their status.


Fisheries women's group, Entrepreneurship, Wellbeing, Fisheries Cooperative Association, Japan

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Soejima Kumi, Frangoudes Katia (2019). Fisheries women groups in Japan: a shift from well-being to entrepreneurship. Maritime Studies. 18 (3). 297-304.,

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