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Japan Post to survey all insurance customers in hunt for illicit contracts

A Japan Post Holdings group sign. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

TOKYO -- Japan Post Co. announced on July 14 that it would ask every current customer of sister firm Japan Post Insurance Co. if they were pressured into signing onto policies with provisions they did not want.

The move comes after recent revelations that Japan Post employees sold more than 90,000 policies in the knowledge that the terms were detrimental to the customers. The company will take steps to remedy any problem contracts discovered through the client survey. Both Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance are owned by Japan Post Holdings.

Japan Post had notified all its post offices across the country of the move by the same day. Once branches have completed preparations for the survey, staff will visit each local policyholder to explain the malfeasance, examine the client's contract for any problematic provisions, and ask them if they have any concerns. Japan Post Insurance Co. is expected to make the final determination on whether a contract is illicit.

"We are taking this action to restore public trust," a Japan Post representative stated.

In addition to the survey, Japan Post Insurance will send notices to all policyholders as soon as next month encouraging them to contact the company if they feel some part of their contract is suspicious or have any other misgivings. The firm will examine reported problem contracts and, where appropriate, reinstate cancelled policies or return premiums in cases of overcharging, among other measures.

The insurance company had approximately 29.14 million personal policies on its books as of the end of March this year, and it is expected to take quite some time and a large dedicated staff for the firm to reach every client and complete the contract evaluations. Some employees have told the Mainichi Shimbun that they are worried how long the process will take.

Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance have voluntarily suspended life insurance policy sales until the end of August.

(Japanese original by Akiko Kato and Toshiki Miyazaki, Business News Department)

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