The system of agricultural cooperatives, collectively referred to as JA, is one of the most politically powerful organizations in Japanese politics. Based on its strong ties with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has been in government for almost the entire postwar period, JA has lobbied the Japanese government to maintain its various restrictive trade policies regarding agricultural commodities. JA is regarded by many as being Japan’s biggest obstacle to further international trade liberalization. How has JA become so politically powerful, and will JA continue to dictate the position of the Japanese government in international trade negotiations? In order to provide clear answers to these questions, this study focuses on JA’s sociopolitical role and influence in rural communities.