ILO co-hosts the “Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy” Seminar, a pre-event of the Japan Society for International Development (JASID)

The SSE Research Group of the Japan Society for International Development (JASID), Solidaridad Japan, and ILO Office for Japan, held an event titled the "Decent Work and the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE)" on 2 December 2022. About 100 academics, co-operators, government officials and trade unionists attended the event at the JTUC-RENGO Hall, prior to the Japan Society for International Development (JASID) 33rd National Conference, which provided English-Japanese simultaneous interpretation, remotely as well as in person.

News | 14 December 2022
The SSE is gaining growing attention in the world as a way to address global challenges such as poverty, crises, inequality, and decent work deficits. Although Japan has a long history of cooperatives, the SSE is relatively unfamiliar as a framework in the country. Against this backdrop, the event aimed to raise awareness on the SSE in Japan and discuss its potential for the development context.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Shinichi Takasaki, Director, ILO Office for Japan, highlighted the relevance of the SSE to the ILO’s mandate, especially the realization of Decent Work for All. The values and principles of the SSE are closely aligned with the ILO’s founding philosophy of realizating social justice, he noted. This is one of the reasons that the ILO has been playing a leading role in promoting the SSE within the UN system, he added. He also introduced the Office’s efforts in promoting the SSE in Japan by citing its decade-long initiative around the ILO/JCCU Study Tour Programme for African Cooperative Leaders.

Ms. Simel Esim, Programme Manager at the ILO’s Enterprises Department in Geneva, who leads the ILO’s work on cooperatives and the wider SSE globally, provided a broad picture of the SSE, its recent developments and ILO activities around this portfolio. She spoke of the general discussion at the 110th International Labour Conference (ILC) which culminated in the adoption of a resolution on decent work and the SSE. The resolution includes the universal definition of the SSE along with an annex of relevant international labour and human rights standards, she noted. The ILO’s Governing Body session this November endorsed an office-wide strategy and action plan (2023-29) on decent work and the SSE which will give the work of the Office for the next seven years, she added. She then introduced a development cooperation project funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea on Strengthening the Social and Solidarity Economy in Asia.

She pointed out that, while there are no legal frameworks on the SSE in the region, many of the values and principles of the SSE are deeply rooted in the region’s diverse cultures. She provided examples from SSE entities in the Asia-Pacific region such as community self-help groups, cooperatives, associations, and mutual aid organizations. She also highlighted the development of social enterprises in the past 20 years, especially in countries like India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. In addition, she highlighted the role that SSE entities play in crisis response, supply chains, transition from the informal to the formal economy, and just transition to environmental sustainability. For the development of the SSE in Japan, she noted that a national network could be established to allow for continued dialogue. She also pointed out to the potential of Japanese development cooperation for advancing the SSE around the world.

From the Japanese Trade Union Confederation - RENGO (JTUC-RENGO), Ms. Yukari Nishino presented the Wor-Q initiative for all workers including atypical workers, like own-account/gig workers and freelancers. As part of the Wor-Q initiative JTUC-RENGO set up an online network and introduced a mutual system to provide health and employment insurances for those who are without social protection. It has also organized an advisory board to deal with contract issues for artists, and musicians, among others.

During the Q and A session, one of the discussion points was how to raise awareness on the SSE in Japan. Ms. Esim emphasized the value in establishing a network for the enhancement of the discussion on the SSE. She added that sharing SSE good practices from other countries would be also helpful to encourage the SSE promotion.

In the closing remarks, Prof. Koyu Furusawa, on behalf of the JASID SSE Research Group, pointed out that the concept of SSE should be promoted as a means to rethink a new form of economy. He also concluded that the SSE could further contribute to promoting Decent Work for All.