GIAJ Chairman's Statement released on December 17, 2009(Dec. 18, 2009

 I would like to report on our major initiatives so far and express my views thereof, as it is now nearly six months since I took office as Chairman of the GIAJ on June 30, 2009.

1. Introduction

 I reflect on that 2009 was the year, as represented by the change in administration, that the whole of society sought a "change" so as to pull out of the severe economic situation following the financial crisis.

 The Japanese economy has been on a track to recovery, as demonstrated by a “recovery” trend in consumer spending and an increase in exports mainly to Asian countries as well. Nevertheless, it is also true that our economy is still at risk of depression because of modest deflation, the high unemployment rate, the strengthening value of the yen, and so on.

 According to the first half business results of our 27 member companies for fiscal 2009, net premiums written decreased by 4.8% to 3,510.9 billion yen while on the other hand interim net profits increased by 82.1% to 189.2 billion yen, compared with the same period last year respectively.

 Positive policy effects can be seen in new car sales and housing starts, but such a recovery is not so powerful and the general insurance market has remained in a severe situation. However, each company’s bottom line has improved thanks to less claims payments for natural disasters such as typhoons and a decrease in losses on the revaluation of securities.

 The general insurance industry has still found itself in a severe business situation. However, we would like to fulfill our roles as “general insurance” to support people’s individual lives and corporate activities through our efforts to improve the quality of business processes based on consumers’ voices.


Mr. Masatoshi Sato, Chairman

2. Progress of Priority Issues

 I would like to report on the progress of our three priority issues which I mentioned in my inaugural address as follows:

(1) Enhancement of communication with consumers

A. Provision of comparative information of general insurance products
 We, the GIAJ, were deliberating on how to provide comparative information of general insurance products in light of views from consumers at a “Free Discussion on Comparison of Insurance Products”.

 On November 26, 2009, we launched a "website page for comparative information on automobile insurance products", following the drawing up of a “Guideline on Comparison of General Insurance Products” in June this year.

 On the website page, we have published various bits of information on insurance products provided by our member companies, and consumers are able to choose and compare specific items of each company’s products such as scope of coverage, main endorsements, discount terms, ancillary services, and other characteristics. We also refer to important points for consumers in choosing automobile insurance products on the page, which we hope will be of some help to them in making the best product choices.

B. Consumer education and public relations activities
 The GIAJ sends general insurance lecturers to a lecture meeting for high school and university students as well as for the public, and also to a study meeting for consumer consultants. We have sent general insurance lecturers to a total of 186 meetings as of October 2009, where a total of around 30,000 people participated.

 We have also been holding a "General Insurance Public Seminar" for consumers across the country from this fiscal year. A total of 10 sessions of the seminar have so far been held in Miyagi, Tokyo, Kagawa, and Hyogo prefectures as of October this year. As a new initiative from this fiscal year, we have started the radio program in order to provide information on risk and general insurance to the wider public.

 We strive to continue to promote consumers' better understanding of the general insurance products and services as well as the important points which they need to keep in mind at the time of concluding an insurance contract and making insurance claims.

C. Utilization of consumers' voices for business improvement
  The GIAJ receives complaints from and provides consultation for consumers at the "General Insurance Counseling Offices" of its headquarters and 10 branch offices, and at 48 "Automobile Insurance Claims Counseling Centers" established throughout the country.

 We have also made efforts to listen to consumers' opinions and requests for the general insurance industry directly through a meeting with the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan and local consumer centers.

 We utilize such opinions and requests for business improvement of the whole industry, as represented by the revision of various guidelines drawn up by the GIAJ.


(2)Improvement in the quality of business processes

 The GIAJ has implemented a qualification renewal system and an insurance product learning system as an education and examination system common to the general insurance industry as a whole. A total of about 287,000 general insurance solicitors have taken an examination under the qualification renewal system, and about 150,000 solicitors have taken an examination under the insurance product learning system as of this October.

 Each member company makes efforts to continue to develop their solicitors by promoting prior education and self-learning through group training, e-learning, and DVD-based training.

 

(3) Response to environmental issues

 Currently, the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is being held in Copenhagen, Denmark, where serious discussions are taking place to establish a framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
  
  On November 6, 2009, the GIAJ held the 50th session of a "lecture meeting on environmental issues", where a keynote lecture was given under the theme of the "current situation of global environmental problems and how to address them", and we sent a message about specific measures taken by the general insurance industry against environmental problems.

 We also conducted a "questionnaire on environmental issues" for each member company, sharing the results among all member companies to raise the level of the industry as a whole in addressing environmental issues.

 In light of the COP 15, we have resolved to continue to promote our specific measures which will help to develop the industry's consciousness of global climate change, and to take decisive actions against it.

3.Other Specific Initiatives

(1)Prevention of disasters, crimes, and traffic accidents

A. Donation of fire engines
 Since 1952, the GIAJ has donated fire engines to local municipalities throughout the country every year so as to contribute to the creation of a safer and more secure society. In fiscal 2009, we donated 28 light fire engines with small water pumps and 7 small water pumps to 23 local municipalities and 12 cities in isolated islands, and we also donated 10 high-performance ambulances to local fire headquarters.

B. Educational activities for disaster prevention
 The GIAJ has been appealing to the public regarding the meaning and importance of the activities for “disaster prevention”, "crime prevention", and "traffic safety" at schools and in local communities.

 Specifically, we hold an "Map Contest for Disaster Prevention Exploration Party” for elementary school children every year, thus making every effort to raise their consciousness of disaster prevention by providing an opportunity to draw up a disaster prevention map of their local communities. For the contest this time, we have received a record number of 1,389 entries from around the country.

 We will hold an awards ceremony for the winning entries at the KFC Hall, Ryogoku in Tokyo, on January 23, 2010.

C. Theft prevention
 The GIAJ set October 7 as "Theft Prevention Day" and has conducted an anti-theft campaign all over the country every year since 2003.

 This year, a total of around 2,000 people from general insurance companies, agents, and the police participated in the campaign to distribute a total of about 100,000 novelty goods at 55 major stations and other places, thus raising public awareness of the prevention of car thefts and burglaries.

D. Revision of maps of traffic accident-prone intersections in Japan
 We, the GIAJ, have displayed an exclusive page on our website of “Maps of Traffic Accident-prone Intersections in Japan”, and we updated the contents of the maps based on the latest data on the recent number of traffic accidents involving bodily injury this October.

 We do hope that more road users including people living around intersections will make the most of our information, and contribute to the creation of a safer and more secure society with no tragic traffic accidents.

(2)Contribution to the global community

 We held the 19th session of the Advanced Course of the Insurance School (Non-Life) of Japan (ISJ) in Tokyo for about two weeks from November 9 through November 20, jointly with the Non-Life Insurance Institute of Japan. This time, participants from general insurance companies, insurance organizations, and supervisory authorities selected from the 12 regions in East Asia, exchanged views and information in lectures and workshops, thus deepening mutual understanding among the participants and with the Japanese general insurance industry as well.

 From October 19 through October 24, 2009, the 16th session of the Annual Conference of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this year’s annual conference, supervision over internationally active insurance groups was a main issue in light of the recent financial crisis, and a guidance paper on this and other papers were adopted accordingly. The GIAJ delivered its views at the hearing session of the Technical Committee as an IAIS observer, and also made a presentation at a panel session, thus making active efforts to enhance its presence in the international arena.


4.Conclusion

 The year 2009 draws to a close in two weeks.

 As I mentioned in my inaugural address, we, the GIAJ, have so far worked harder on our three priority issues of "enhancement of communication with consumers", "improvement in the quality of business processes", and "response to environmental issues".

 I will make every effort to continue these initiatives for my six-month tenure ahead to ensure that the general insurance industry will evolve to become an industry applicable to the new generation.