New Year's greetings (Translation)
(Jan. 1, 2013

 I wish to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to offer my resolutions for 2013.

Introduction

Yasuyoshi Karasawa, ChairmanYasuyoshi Karasawa, Chairman

 Whilst our country continues to face difficult social and economic challenges - all against a backdrop of having to deal with and recover from a series of tumultuous events such as the Great East Japan Earthquake, the floods in Thailand, the prolonged debt crisis in Europe, and deflating emerging economies - it is imperative to recognize that we have weathered the storm quite well so far. I am now looking ahead, sincerely hoping the New Year will be a bright, lively and peaceful one.

 The largest issues we face as a nation are to continue working towards a full recovery from the Earthquake and getting the economy going. Playing a big role in that effort is general insurance, given that it is a key part of the country's infrastructure that supports the day to day lives of people and the greater economy. In the New Year, I will continue to drive our work forward and deliver on my promises to make general insurance increasingly more robust, sound, and reliable.

Key measures

 This year, we will continue to push forward the following initiatives:

1. Enhancing public awareness of general insurance

Making sales material more consumer-friendly

 Our new 'Customers Voices and Experts Advisory Council' has come up with design examples for more consumer-friendly sales material and pamphlets and has also identified the legislative changes needed for this. These will be put forward to the Financial System Council's Working Group on Insurance Products and Services for their consideration. Based on the outcomes of the discussions, we will then publish guidelines for member companies on how to improve their sales material.

Improving the level of agents and solicitors

 This year we will introduce a new 'Consulting Course' at the 'General Insurance College Course' that was launched jointly last July with the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan Inc. These are aimed at improving the way front-line sales staff deal with customers.

2. Minimizing social losses (Prevention of insurance fraud etc.)

Strengthening insurance fraud and fraudulent claims prevention

 This month, the GIAJ will set up a new 'Insurance Fraud Prevention Office' to drive and steer the fight against insurance fraud. It will gather and analyze information and data collected from insurers and will also operate an insurance fraud hot-line (0120-271-824) to which people can report suspected fraud.

3. Strengthening the soundness of general insurers

The GIAJ BCP (Business Continuity Plan)

 To ensure insurers can fulfill their most fundamental function of paying out claims in the event of a loss, we will undertake a thorough review of our BCP taking account of lessons learnt from the Great East Japan Earthquake. We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios such as a major earthquake hitting the Tokyo area.

Voicing our opinions on international regulatory issues

 This year, we expect to see the first G-SIIs (Global Systemically Important Insurers) list be finalized and also the conclusion of the development phase of the IAIS's ComFrame (Common Framework for the Supervision of Internationally Active insurance Groups). We will continue to present our views and submit proposals to ensure any new framework properly reflects the characteristics of general insurance.

4. Diversifying our business to better meet customer needs

Measures to diversify general insurance business

 To better meet the ever-diversifying needs and risks of our customers, we will continue to petition for the following items that are currently being debated at the Financial System Council's Working Group on Insurance Products and Services:

  - easing of conditions to engage in the concerted activities necessary to provide coverage for new types of risk unknown to insurers; and


  - allowing insurers to offer a broader range of insurance associated services such as trust services regarding the handling of paid out insurance claims and ancillary services related to disaster prevention consulting.

International relations building and collaboration with overseas institutions

 In the interest of supporting our member companies expand overseas, we will continue to push forward our efforts on building goodwill and strong relations with overseas industry professionals both from the public and private sector. The ISJ (Insurance School of Japan), for instance, has proven to be a great platform in this regard. We will also work jointly with the Non-Life Insurance Rating Organization to provide technical assistance to emerging countries wishing to set up a similar organization in their local market.

In closing

 This is the Year of the Snake. Snakes are historically known to represent fertility, life, and revival. The Year of the Snake sixty years ago, namely 1953, is when we saw the start of television broadcasting and the wide use of electric household appliances. It marked the recovery from the War and the rebuilding of our nation. In the same way, I hope this year will be remembered as the turning point when we made a full recovery from the Earthquake and got the economy going again. As for the general insurance industry, I remain committed to making this the year we go back to the basics of general insurance and establish a stronger footing for the future so that our industry can remain robust, sound and reliable to continue to support and contribute to society and the economy for another sixty years and more.

 Going forward, I ask for your continued support and cooperation, and in closing, I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy New Year.

(end)