New Year's Message from the Chairperson for 2024

Hiroshi Shimizu, Chairperson

The Life Insurance Association of Japan (LIAJ)

First, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the many people who lost their lives in the recent 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake, and my heart goes out to all those affected by the disaster.

The life insurance industry will make its best efforts to reassure those affected by the disaster. We are praying with all our hearts for everyone’s safety and a rapid recovery in the stricken area.

Looking back on the last year, there were both positive and negative changes that affected us significantly. Japanese society and economy made an advancement toward normalization, following the reclassification of Covid-19 from Class 2 Infectious Diseases, which refers to novel influenza and other disease categories, to Class 5 Infectious Diseases under the Infectious Diseases Control Law. On the other hand, we also experienced global instability, such as the political unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as the increasing inflation.

Even amid these drastic changes, life insurers have been committed to providing security and better quality of life for citizens in the spirit of mutual aid. The life insurance industry is striving to fulfil its mission of being the social foundation that complements the social security system, offering insurance products and making payments of over \1.3 trillion on claims totalling 11 million cases for hospitalization and other Covid-19 related benefits through a network of over 240,000 direct salespersons and approximately 80,000 agencies nationwide.

The life insurance industry will further contribute to solving various social issues by maintaining the trust with customers and serving the interests of society as a whole going forward. With this in mind, we will continue to proceed with our proactive approach this year, focusing on the following three pillars of action that I highlighted upon becoming chairperson last July.

1.Promoting Our Customer-first Business Operations to Realize a “Safe and Secure Society”

To deliver a constant peace of mind to customers and to continue to serve the well-being of society, the life insurance industry’s focus on promoting its “customer-first business operations” in the utmost interest of customers is our top priority.

Accordingly, the LIAJ held a dialogue to exchange opinions and ideas among member companies on “the viewpoints for the enhancement of the compliance risk management structure related to the direct salesperson channel” last September. The LIAJ will hold another dialogue again based on the results of a member company survey related to their efforts which was conducted last October.

The LIAJ is also planning on publishing in late February the result of the sales agencies that satisfied all the basic criteria under the LIAJ’s Agency Operations Quality Review which is in its second year.

In addition, the LIAJ published a report last November on “the initiatives taken by the life insurance industry against Covid-19 and passing down the lessons learned for the next pandemic,” summarizing the efforts by the LIAJ and its member companies as to utilize the pandemic experience for the future.

Moreover, the LIAJ concluded “the comprehensive collaboration arrangement on insurance education” with the General Insurance Association of Japan and the Japan Institute of Life Insurance last November to cooperate and work together on insurance education that aims to more effectively improve the financial literacy among citizens by emphasizing the importance of “self-help” or individual awareness and preparation against risks.

2.Contributing to Solving Regional Societal Issues to Realize a “Society Full of Hope”

Faced with the urgent challenge of the falling birth rate, we are seeking to contribute to the momentum of supporting childrearing throughout society by highlighting the initiatives taken by the LIAJ and its member companies responding to the falling birth rate, as well as re-emphasizing the responsibility of the life insurance industry. We will also focus on childrearing in local communities by developing guiding materials on topics related to raising children and protecting children’s rights, as well as communicating our initiatives both within and outside the industry. These initiatives will be published in April.

Furthermore, the LIAJ and its member companies have been proactively engaging in activities contributing to local communities from the past. It will also revamp its website to uniformly raise the visibility of these activities and the annual report in June as to enhance the communication in an easy-to-understand way for the public.

In addition, amid the rapid progress of digitalization, we will compile a report as well as hold workshops on advanced digital society to support member companies on digital transformation.

3.Contributing to Solving Global Environmental Issues to Realize a “Sustainable Society”

Given the importance of taking concrete actions, such as de-carbonization, is increasing to realize a sustainable society, we will continue to contribute to the improvement of investee company’s corporate value and their sustainable economic growth through ESG investment/financing and stewardship activities.

We also proactively communicated our industrywide efforts at international conferences such as “PRI in Person 2023” and the IAIS annual conference, both of which took place in Tokyo last year, as well as exchanged views and opinions among member companies to further enhance the efforts made by our member companies in this regard.

Furthermore, we will promote member company efforts by publishing two booklets in April on global environmental issues. One will be the basic edition providing summaries and guidance on fundamental environmental challenges, and the other will be the advanced edition covering more specific and technical topics such as global initiatives and developments.

In addition to these three pillars of action, we will continue to foster an environment that maintains the trust of customers and ensures the sound development of the life insurance industry. The life insurance industry will proactively communicate the expansion of the life insurance premium tax deduction system and international and domestic financial regulations to support and promote peoples’ efforts to obtain the various types of private insurance coverage that they need.

Through these activities, we are committed to fulfilling the life insurance industry’s mission toward realizing a sustainable society full of hope and security.

Finally, I would like to conclude my New Year message by wishing everyone a peaceful 2024.