The GIAJ Chairman's Statement (Translation)
(June 30, 2015

 As the newly appointed Chairman of the GIAJ, I would like to express my opinions as follows:

1. Situation in the general insurance industry

Hisahito Suzuki, ChairmanHisahito Suzuki, Chairman

 In Japan, the moderate domestic economic recovery is continuing, due to improving corporate performance aided by external factors such as low crude oil prices and the depreciation of the yen. Positive effects on assets thanks to high stock prices and the stable consumption following the improvement of the employment and income environments have also contributed to this recovery. At the same time, expectations for the future are being heightened by the growing desire among women and the elderly for employment, along with the promotion of innovation and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 On the other hand, Japan is facing lots of challenges in achieving sustainable economic growth, including a rapidly aging population and a falling birthrate, revitalization of local areas, and further globalization of the economy. In addition, as there is increasing concern that we will continue to be hit frequently by natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which have occurred recently, we recognize that uncertainty about the situation surrounding us is increasing.

 Given such circumstances, we established the three-year Seventh Mid-Term Business Plan, and launched it in April this year. For our member companies to reliably meet the needs of the times according to environmental changes, the plan focuses on eight priority issues in consideration of the situation in the coming 5 and 10 years, including 'the super-aging society', 'emerging risks', and 'natural disasters'. Through our efforts on these issues, as the Chairman of the GIAJ, I am determined to lead our efforts to support social stability and economic development, and to help build a worry-free, safe society.

2. Our policy on initiatives

 Based on the experiences of recent large-scale disasters, there has been a move to reacknowledge the importance of self-help (protecting one's own life and wealth) and mutual help (helping each other in local communities, etc.), in addition to public help (disaster prevention and reduction efforts made by the national and municipal governments).

 The government is promoting various measures to increase the level of disaster prevention at the local level by enhancing self-help and mutual help. To support such initiatives, community-based activities led by a variety of parties are considered effective.

 The GIAJ has been implementing various measures to help build a worry-free, safe society through our 11 branch offices and 36 regional groups. Together with offering better products and services, reducing social losses due to accidents and disasters is one of our industry's missions. Therefore, under our three-year Seventh Mid-Term Business Plan, especially during this year, we will concentrate our efforts on advocating the importance of self-help and mutual help while promoting 'natural disaster awareness' and 'educational activities for consumers', utilizing the resources we have developed.

3. Priority measures

 Based on the above-mentioned situation and our policy on initiatives, we will advance the following three priority measures.

(1) Awareness-raising and educational activities for consumers

 To advocate the importance of self-help and mutual help, we will promote awareness-raising and educational activities catering for different age groups. For elementary school pupils, we will further the 'Exploration for Disaster Prevention' activities, where schoolchildren explore their neighborhoods to discover facilities for disaster prevention, crime prevention, and traffic safety, in order to create safety maps. This year, related issues such as safety maps have been taken up in all elementary school textbooks. We hope that the 'Exploration for Disaster Prevention' activities will further contribute to school education across the country. In addition, the GIAJ is taking part in a project organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to promote learning activities on Saturdays, as a volunteer supporter. We are making active use of this opportunity to spread awareness of safety and disaster prevention among children.

 For high school and university students, we will cooperate with the relevant parties to hold various lectures aimed at deepening students' understanding of risks in their daily lives and the usefulness of insurance.

 To prevent traffic accidents involving elderly people, we will undertake analysis of such accidents that have occurred in recent years, and call on not only the elderly, but also the people around them such as their families as well as general motorists to pay more attention to accident prevention and reduction. We will also encourage the elderly to participate in the 'Exploration for Disaster Prevention' activities with children, so that disaster prevention at the community level can be boosted.

(2) Promoting earthquake insurance

 Earthquakes have the potential to impose an unexpected economic burden on the affected people, so earthquake insurance is an effective, important self-help tool designed to immediately support such people's lives. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, we paid earthquake insurance claims totaling more than 1.2 trillion yen for that very purpose.

 Although we have been engaged in various measures to promote earthquake insurance, the penetration rate still differs greatly among prefectures. Therefore this year, by conducting intensive advertising campaigns, we are particularly focusing on 11 prefectures as priority regions in order to further promote earthquake insurance.

(3) Promoting disaster prevention and reduction, taking local characteristics into account

 Due to its geographical and climatic characteristics, Japan is regularly hit by disasters. Though historically the various disaster types have had regional characteristics, in recent years, with disaster events that far exceed expectations and localized torrential downpours in large cities, large scale disasters tend to be more frequent and their types more diverse. Therefore, in order to reduce disaster losses, there is an increased need for residents to understand the local characteristics of disasters that occur in their neighborhoods. This year, in addition to the activities of each branch office, we are conducting educational activities for disaster prevention and reduction, according to regional circumstances, in about six selected regions that are frequently hit by disasters or have been affected by record damage.

4. Other specific measures

 Besides the above three priority measures, we will work on the following issues diligently during this first year of the Seventh Mid-Term Business Plan

 With regard our 'super-aging society', we recognize that activities to prevent and reduce accidents involving the elderly are important and urgent. In 2060 the percentage of the total population of people aged 65 or older is expected to be 40%. The ratio of elderly traffic fatalities has already surpassed 50% and is a growing trend. In addition, there has not only been an increase in the number of elderly accident victims, but also in perpetrators. Therefore, in order to prepare and promote effective tools to prevent and reduce accidents involving the elderly, we will analyze such accidents with experts as they occur, irrespective of cause. In addition, we will establish a project team within the association to analyze issues, consider possible measures, and review guidelines with regard to claim payments and insurance solicitation in order to further promote the understanding of the elderly and their families.

 As for 'emerging risks', we will review and organize issues arising from technological innovation trends in a variety of fields. Technological innovations such as self-driving cars and nursing-care robots are expected to contribute to the enrichment of people's lives. We will implement steps to improve the industry-wide business foundation, by researching and sorting out the impact of the practical applications of new technologies, to deal with the changes in order to promote popularization of such technologies.

 As for 'globalization', we will closely monitor the development of international supervisory and regulatory standards by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). We will continue expressing our opinions, paying particular attention to regulations that may significantly affect Japanese domestic regulations. In addition, we will undertake measures to stimulate the development of sound general insurance markets globally and to assist our members companies' operations abroad, including measures for the improvement of financial infrastructure in Asian countries and the enhancement of relationships with our overseas counterparts.

 In order to maintain a sound insurance system, we will strive to deal with 'insurance crime'. As part of our efforts, we will continue to enhance our system infrastructure to eliminate false claims, in consideration of an increase in organizational crime and increased sophistication and complication of insurance crime.

 Toward 'establishment of new systems for insurance solicitation' and 'consumer consultations, complaints and dispute settlement', we will enhance the quality of the general insurance business, through establishment of industry-wide guidelines based on the revisions to the Insurance Business Act, improvement of our examination system for general insurance solicitors, and strengthening the functions of the 'General Insurance ADR Center'.

 Regarding 'tax reform petitions', we will work from the perspective of the social role of general insurance companies.

5. Conclusion

 In 2017, we will mark the 100th anniversary of the Joint Fire Insurance Association of Japan, our predecessor. Over the past 100 years, both the Japanese economy and society as a whole have overcome difficulties and developed remarkably. The general insurance industry has contributed to the country's economic development, social stability, and the security and safety of people's lives, by providing various products and services that meet the needs of the times, such as responses to motorization, increased overseas operations of Japanese companies, and frequent occurrence of natural disasters.

 The Seventh Mid-Term Business Plan, which started this year, is playing a role in passing the baton to the next 100 years. We will advance our industry's unified efforts to deal with the social expectations and contribute to a worry-free, safe society. Your continued support and cooperation are both greatly appreciated.


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