The GIAJ Chairman's Statement (Translation)
(Sep. 17, 2015

 It has been two and a half months since I was appointed Chairman of the GIAJ. I would like to report on our activities and related events since.

1. Introduction

Hisahito Suzuki, ChairmanHisahito Suzuki, Chairman

 Firstly, prior to giving my report I would like to express my condolences to the victims and extend our sincerest sympathies to all those affected by the recent natural disasters, such as the torrential downpours in Northern Kanto and the Tohoku region in September, as well as other recent typhoons and tornados.

 In being committed to making swift claim payments, the general insurance industry will continue to achieve its social responsibility and strive to help rebuild the affected people's lives through sincere responses to customer consultations and inquiries.

2. Our key activities so far

 In July and August, I went to our regional branch offices across Japan to thoroughly promote understanding of our policy on initiatives during this fiscal year, and to visit local government offices and media outlets. In each region, the importance of enhancing self-help and mutual help has been recognized as a key to reducing social losses due to accidents and disasters. We confirmed our continued work to help build a worry-free, safe society with the relevant parties in this field and, are determined to steadily advance this year’s listed measures through enhanced cooperation at the local level.

 The following are our key activities so far:

(1) Priority measures

i. Awareness-raising and educational activities for consumers

 As for our 'Exploration for Disaster Prevention' program for elementary school students, an explanatory document was provided to local boards of education across the nation through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, with the help of the Cabinet Office. The program has also been supported by the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan, Inc., and we will further our cooperation this fiscal year. Thanks in part to these measures, this year's safety map-making campaign (the 12th) received a total of 1,713 maps from 340 groups as of August 31, exceeding the figures for the same period last year.

 Our educational programs for university students aim to systematically deepen understanding of the risks they face in their daily lives and the usefulness of general insurance. In addition to schools where we have already held lectures, this fiscal year we will launch a series of lectures at Kyushu University's Faculty of Economics.

ii. Promoting earthquake insurance

 On August 24, we launched a PR campaign with the catch phrase 'Insurance that supports your family's lives after earthquakes: earthquake insurance' through various media outlets across the country. With particular focus on the 11 prefectures with a low penetration rate that we designated as priority regions this fiscal year, we are planning to stage public forums starting in October, which take regional characteristics into account in cooperation with municipalities and local newspapers as well as the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan, Inc.

 While the national earthquake insurance penetration rate was 59.3%, a year-on-year increase of 1.2%, the pace of increase has slowed compared with the period that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake. We will work hard to promote earthquake insurance by disseminating its usefulness through PR activities.

iii. Promoting disaster prevention and reduction, taking local characteristics into account

 In six selected regions where the occurrence of large-scale disasters is of great concern or which have been affected by record damage, we are conducting educational activities for disaster prevention and reduction according to each region’s circumstances. As concrete measures, we will offer awareness-raising programs including lectures and workshops with the assistance of municipalities and experts, in view of region-specific disasters such as earthquakes in the Nankai Trough.

(2) Other specific measures

i. Response to the super-aging society

 In recent years, the number of traffic accidents involving the elderly has been on the rise. To prevent and reduce such accidents, we produced special leaflets based on detailed analyses of past accidents together with the police and specialists. We will step up our awareness-raising activities using these leaflets during ‘road safety week’ in the autumn. We will also undertake various measures to disseminate information on accident prevention and reduction. These measures include provision of the leaflets through insurance agencies, as well as an update of the maps of dangerous crossroads on our homepage to which new elements such as data on accidents involving the elderly and accident prevention measures have been added.

ii. Response to globalization

 In July, we received a visit from members of the Thai General Insurance Association, who came to Japan to study automobile insurance. We cooperated in their efforts towards improvement in auto insurance claim payments in Thailand. Earlier this month, we held an ISJ (Insurance School (Non-Life) of Japan) overseas seminar in Manila, the Philippines. We will continue to contribute to improving the level of sophistication of the financial infrastructure and to the sound development of general insurance markets in Asian countries.

iii. Measures against auto theft prevention

 Since setting October 7 as 'Theft Prevention Day' in 2003, we have been engaged in annual auto theft awareness-raising activities across the country. While the number of known vehicle thefts in fiscal 2014 dropped to around 30% of that in fiscal 2003, particular areas are still troubled by frequent vehicle thefts. During this fiscal year, particularly in the 10 most theft-prone areas, we will strengthen measures to reduce social losses due to insurance crime, in collaboration with the local police and the Independent Insurance Agents of Japan, Inc.

iv. Establishment of new systems for insurance solicitation

 In dealing with the implementation of the revised Insurance Business Act in May 2016, we amended various guidelines including the 'Guidelines for Policy Overview and Warning Information (Important Matters)', and thoroughly informed our member companies of the changes. Meanwhile, the number of 'General Insurance Total Planners', our most prestigious qualification for insurance solicitors, has been steadily increasing since the first group was awarded certification in July 2014. As of August 31, a total of 10,159 sales staff had been certified. We will continue our efforts to improve the quality of insurance solicitation.

v. Tax reform petitions

 At our board meeting in July, we set out our requests for tax reforms for fiscal 2016 and submitted them to the relevant authorities. As a priority, we are calling for the broadening of the existing pre-event catastrophe reserve system concerning fire insurance, etc., which has also been taken up as one of the Financial Services Agency's requests. Considering the frequent occurrence of major natural catastrophes in Japan, the proposed system improvements are essential for insurers to fulfill their social mission of ensuring insurance claim payments. We will advance our industry's unified efforts to reach out to various related parties and call for support.

3. Conclusion

 In August, with a focus on the coastal regions between the prefectures of Iwate and Fukushima, I visited areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to learn about the current situation. Although these areas have consistently moved towards recovery in the four and a half years since the quake, the degree of reconstruction differs among the regions. In some areas, lasting scars of the disaster are still clearly noticeable.

 Looking back, such large-scale disasters described as national crises left us with heavy damage in terms of both human suffering and economic losses. However, at the same time, we have learnt many lessons from these events and think it is crucial for us to utilize them for our future.

 We are determined to work together with our member companies to reduce social losses due to disasters and accidents by steadily advancing our priority measures this fiscal year as well as disseminating the significance of self-help and mutual-help. Your continued support and cooperation are both greatly appreciated.