GIAJ Chairman's Statement released on September 16, 2010

"General insurance sincerely interacting with society in the spirit of mutual support -Challenge together with local communities-"
(Sep. 28, 2010

I would like to report on our major initiatives since my inauguration as Chairman of the GIAJ on June 30, 2010, and express my views as follows:

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere sympathies to the victims of the torrential downpours which caused disasters mainly in the western part of Japan this July as well as the recent typhoon. We, the general insurance industry, will make every effort to commit ourselves to prompt claims payment and sincerely respond to inquiries and consultations from customers as well, so that we can fulfill our mission to "provide the public with security and safety".

1. Introduction

In this short period of time since I took office as Chairman of the GIAJ, the Japanese yen has become stronger at a rapid pace in the foreign exchange markets. The Japanese economy, which has been stagnant since the global financial crisis of the year before last, has just started showing signs of recovery thanks to steady exports to overseas markets. However, people's anxieties over economic prospects have been increasing, as represented by a significant decline in stock prices due to concerns about the decrease in corporate profits resulting from the appreciation of the Japanese yen at this time. Should this situation be prolonged, there is a fear that the negative effects on the real economy would expand in the future.

As I mentioned in my inaugural address, a "forward-looking challenge" is essential to the bright future of our country. I would like to make an appeal that appropriate response should be taken under close cooperation among politicians, bureaucrats, and businesses in order to prevent the appreciation of the Japanese yen from slowing down such a challenge.
Mr. Hisahito Suzuki, Chairman
Mr. Hisahito Suzuki, Chairman

2. Specific measures and actions

Over the nearly two months since I took office as Chairman of the GIAJ, I have visited 11 branch offices of the GIAJ throughout the country in order to keep every office informed of this year's action policies such as "realizing consumer-friendly general insurance and supporting the growth of the young and children", where I also clarified initiatives which are considered to be the most appropriate to the characteristics of each region by precisely understanding the actual condition of risks and issues to be addressed which differ from region to region. In addition, I have visited the local police, mass media, and universities to assure close liaison and mutual cooperation with them.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to accelerate our initiatives to further activate our activities in local communities, so that general insurance as well as the general insurance industry can be more consumer-friendly and reliable all over the country.

Our major initiatives for the past three months and challenges for the future are as follows:

(1) Promotion of educational activities for consumers

The following educational activities have been promoted for the "young and children", on whom we have put a particular emphasis for this year:

For "university students", in addition to holding a study course on general insurance, we have encouraged universities to provide a series of study courses on general insurance where university students can receive more systematic learning. As a result, we have so far received a favorable response from a total of nine universities regarding the introduction of such study courses, in addition to five universities which have already introduced them.  

With respect to a "lecture program on general insurance for high school students", which is a new initiative for this year, we will urge individual high schools to introduce it in their study curriculums, and participate in meetings such as the Japan Association of Home Economics Education to appeal to the parties concerned for such introduction.

As for the "Exploration for Disaster Prevention" program for elementary school children, we have encouraged elementary schools to participate in the program in cooperation with the school boards and the boy scouts similarly in the last year, in order to ensure participation from all prefectures.

We intend to continue to actively develop these initiatives focusing on local communities.

(2) Strengthening of the GIAJ's capacity to respond to consultations and opinions from consumers

On September 15, 2010, we obtained authorization from the Financial Services Agency as a designated ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) organization under the Insurance Business Law. Aiming at the launch of the business to resolve complaints and disputes at the General Insurance ADR Center on October 1, 2010, we will make efforts to establish a business flow for the appropriate operation of the center and provide consumers with information on its business and system to respond to their consultations and opinions, as well as concluding a basic contract with our member companies.

We will strive to guide consumers' troubles on general insurance to resolution from a neutral and fair standpoint through the operation of the "General Insurance ADR Center".

(3) Establishment of a new examination and educational system for general insurance solicitors

In order to further enhance the quality of general insurance solicitors by ensuring that a new examination system will be launched in October 2011, which has been formed as a result of unifying the former "examination for general insurance solicitors (qualification renewal system)" and an "insurance product learning system", we are now compiling textbooks for the new examination system, preparing for the introduction of a computer-based examination system, and developing a system which facilitates the general insurance industry to manage the information on qualification of general insurance solicitors in an integrated manner.

Furthermore, for the introduction of an "Approval System for General Insurance Solicitors (tentative name)" where general insurance solicitors passing the new examination can aim to move up by themselves, we have discussed with the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan, Inc., which operates its own approval system, regarding the possibility of unifying both systems.

We will make continuous efforts to enhance the quality of general insurance solicitors.

(4) Advisory Panel to Listen to Consumers' Voices

On September 9, 2010, the 17th session of the "Advisory Panel to Listen to Consumers' Voices" was held, where we reported on the progress of our initiatives for this year, and we explained about our "Nationwide Campaign for Earthquake Insurance on Dwelling Risks" which started this August.

As regards the "General Insurance ADR Center" which is newly starting its business at this time, we have received an opinion from the advisory panel that "it could become a reliable system by making continuous efforts to resolve complaints and disputes in a way where users can accept the resolutions, and that the public relations activities are important in obtaining consumers' precise understanding of the new system". Furthermore, with respect to the result of a survey on people's consciousness of general insurance, we have also been advised that "it is necessary for us to assess and analyze the GIAJ's initiatives from various perspectives". We would like to make the most of the recommendations received by the panel for the promotion of the GIAJ's various initiatives.

(5) Contribution to the global community

We have submitted our views and comments on the various consultation papers prepared by various subcommittees of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), regarding group-wide supervision, reinsurance, and solvency. In addition, taking advantage of the opportunities of the Insurance School of Japan (ISJ) Overseas Seminar in Manila, Philippines and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and on the occasion of my visit to the President of the Insurance Association of China for an exchange of views, we have deepened our relationship with overseas insurance associations.

We intend to actively work on such international advocacy and exchange of views and information in a similar way.

(6) Promotion of Eco and Safe Driving Program

With the objective of further promoting the "Eco and Safe Driving Program" which contributes not only to environmental protection but also to safe driving, we launched an exclusive page for the "Eco and Safe Driving Club" on the GIAJ website in July last year. As an incentive to increase the number of registered members of the club, we have decided to publish e-mail newsletters and distribute notebooks to measure fuel consumption on the website.

We will continue to work on the popularization of the "Eco and Safe Driving Program" more than ever.

(7) Traffic safety, and disaster and crime prevention

As a result of surveying traffic accident-prone intersections in all prefectures, we have launched an exclusive page "Nationwide Maps of Traffic Accident-prone Intersections" on our website, which put together specific points for drivers to pay attention to when passing intersections, and have renewed it this year earlier than usual so that the renewed maps can be made use of for the fall "Nationwide Traffic Safety Campaign" which starts on September 21, 2010.

The branch offices of the GIAJ have also conducted various initiatives such as the organization of a lecture under the theme of the actual situation of automobile theft in cooperation with the local police. We will also raise public awareness of automobile theft, car break-ins, and burglaries in all prefectures on our "Theft Prevention Day" of October 7 this year.

These initiatives are based on our steady efforts in local communities, and we would like to continue to promote these initiatives rooted in our local communities.

(8) Requests for tax reform

We have submitted our requests for tax reform for 2011. As the priority issue, we have requested the "elimination of double taxation on dividend income" as the priority issue, and this request is that the current 50% of the exclusion rate from gross revenue should be increased to 100%. In order to strengthen the competitiveness of the Japanese financial and capital markets, we are of the opinion that this system should be revised, as such double taxation on dividend income is eliminated overseas.

3. Conclusion

As I mentioned above, the economic outlook has remained uncertain, since the appreciation of the Japanese yen and fluctuation of stock prices cast a shadow over the self-sustained recovery of the Japanese economy. Under the circumstances, we are concerned that the general insurance market would be also forced to stagnate accordingly. In addition, the world has recently been experiencing abnormal weather and natural disasters, and we are now faced with difficult challenges such as increasingly huge risks.

The general insurance industry still finds itself in a very severe situation, which cannot be easily overcome, but both the GIAJ itself and its member companies would like to work harder to "contribute to the security and safety in people's daily lives by continuing to support social stability and economic development".

I am resolved to fulfill my duties as Chairman of the GIAJ for my remaining tenure of office. We would highly appreciate it, therefore, if you would kindly continue to render us your continued support and cooperation.