Tuesday, April 12, 1921: The first civic cooperative, the Co-op, was formed in Kobe. Toyohiko KAGAWA, a labor movement leader, led the foundation of “Kobe Purchasing Association”. We sell daily necessities such as rice and soy sauce. It started with 10 members, but by the end of the year it had 1,246 members. I went around the house of a union member on a black bicycle to ask questions.
Even today, Co-op Kobe is one of the largest consumer cooperatives in the world and the largest in Japan with 1.68 million members. The citizens of Kobe are known for their use of the word “co-op san” in Japanese. Since its establishment in 1921 up until the 1950s, the citizens of Japan have called the delivery men of the “Kobe Purchasing Association” who come by bicycle every day and sometimes come back with idle talk “Mr. Purchasing.”, but it may be a vestige of this that the citizens of Japan still refer to them as ‘Co-op san ‘.
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