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Japan Post confirms 22 cases of unlawful insurance sales

A sign for Japan Post Co., top, and Japan Post Insurance Co. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

TOKYO -- Japan Post Co. has confirmed 22 cases where postal workers forged documents or were involved in other illegal practices in selling Japan Post Insurance Co. life insurance policies in fiscal 2018 and has reported the incidents to the Financial Services Agency (FSA), it has emerged.

The revelations come as Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance are investigating some 93,000 postal insurance contracts that are disadvantageous to the policyholders.

The possible motive behind such inappropriate sales practices is excessive sales quotas assigned to postal workers.

Kazumasa Iwata, chairman of the government's Postal Privatization Committee, told a news conference on July 29 that Japan Post Holdings Co., the parent company of Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance, was aware of the illegal sales of insurance policies as of April 2019 -- when the holding company began to sell Japan Post Insurance shares.

Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance are looking into reviewing their insurance sales policy and the heads of these two companies and Japan Post Holdings will explain their responses to the wrongdoing at a news conference scheduled to be held on July 31.

Japan Post, tasked with selling Japan Post Insurance policies, had cited three of the 22 cases as examples of vicious sales activities in an internal document issued in April to workers and warned them against such practices.

According to the internal document, a section chief in his 50s filled in an application form for an insurance contract in the name of a customer without their consent. The case came to light after the customer reported to a post office that they received a certificate for an insurance policy they had never taken out. Japan Post has pointed out that the practice could constitute forgery of a private document.

A postal worker who handled another contract asked the customer not to report any visit to medical institutions for treatment in an insurance application form, a practice Japan Post suspects could constitute abetting concealment of illnesses. In the other case, a salesperson concluded a contract without meeting the customer and based the procedure only on documents submitted by a relative.

Japan Post has stripped the post office workers involved of their qualifications as insurance policy salespeople. The internal document attributes the illegal sales practices to pressure on the employees to fulfill their sales quotas.

Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance had previously not publicized any practice that constituted a violation of the Insurance Business Act, which it reported to the FSA, because it is not legally required to do so.

(Japanese original by Akiko Kato and Tsuyoshi Goto, Business News Department)

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