The American Council of Life Insurers and other North American and European groups are asking Japan to change the rules governing Japan Post Insurance before letting JPI add or alter products.

The Japanese government let its mammoth Kampo postal life insurance system start the process of becoming a for-profit company in October 2007.

The ACLI, Washington, and many other organizations and insurers say JPI, Tokyo, continues to have unfair advantages over ordinary private insurers.

Earlier this year, JPI asked the government for a change in regulations that would permit it to offer a new, stand-alone insurance product.

Letting JPI introduce the product, which would compete directly with private insurers’ products, would violate the national treatment component of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the ACLI and 7 other groups say in a joint statement.

If Japan backed away from efforts to liberal international trade in services, other countries would be less likely to “accept meaningful multilateral disciplines in services,” the ACLI and the other groups write.

The groups that joined with the ACLI to issue the statement include the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Tokyo; the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, Toronto; the Comit? Europ?en des Assurances, Brussels; the European Business Council in Japan, Tokyo; the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Des Plaines, Ill.; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington; and the U.S.-Japan Business Council, Washington.

“For years, ACLI and other domestic industry groups have been working with the U.S. government and engaging the Japanese on how to achieve a level playing field,” ACLI President Frank Keating says in a statement about the JPI effort. “We will continue these efforts to urge the Japanese to establish a level playing field between JPI and private insurers before JPI is authorized to offer any new or modified products.”

A copy of the joint statement is available here.