NU Online News Service, Nov. 18, 2003, 11:20 a.m. EST – The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, today blasted as unfair competition a new life insurance product recently approved by Japanese regulators.

ACLI criticized the approval by Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications of a new insurance product from the country’s government-owned Postal Life Insurance Bureau, known as Kampo.

“Despite the pleas of the domestic industry, several foreign insurance associations and even the governments of some foreign companies operating in Japan’s life insurance marketplace, Japan has decided to permit Kampo’s new life product to be marketed,” says Brad Smith, ACLI’s managing director of international relations.

Smith says the approval was apparently “predetermined,” citing press reports before a decision was announced that the MPHPT had taken the position the new product was critical to the future privatization of Japan Post, which runs Kampo.

ACLI says Kampo is the world’s largest life insurer, pays no taxes, receives government guarantees for its products, operates under separate rules and supervision from other insurers in Japan and pays nothing into a safety net fund for policyholders.

“These government-provided commercial advantages provide Kampo with the means to compete unfairly,” says Smith.