Individual customers of the failed Nissan Mutual Life Insurance Co. on Sept. 7 urged the Finance Ministry and commercial banks to take responsibility for helping to create a situation that will lead to reduced policy payouts.

“Putting it simply, we were deceived,” said Makoto Nakajima, a policy holder from Niigata Prefecture. He was speaking at the first general meeting of a victims’ association. About 230 customers from across the country attended the meeting in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. The bailout will reduce the amount of payouts by up to 70 percent of the figures stated in original contracts.

The customers were not alone in venting their rage. Employees of Nissan Mutual and some commercial banks joined in voicing outrage over Nissan’s insurance products, its sales methods and inadequate administrative action. And a legal adviser to the victims’ association mentioned the possibility of suing the Finance Ministry for doing nothing.

Masayuki Kishi, a customer from Wakayama Prefecture, said his annual pension would be reduced from the guaranteed 400,000 yen to 160,000 yen. He set up a local victims’ group on Aug. 27.

Two local banks did not admit responsibility at recent talks with the group, Kishi said, although they lent money to customers to buy Nissan’s insurance products. Many customers have said banks solicited them to buy Nissan insurance. The law prohibits banks from selling insurance.

Chikara Ichikawa, a labor union member of Chiba Bank, revealed that his bank has made 21,000 loans equivalent to 51.4 billion yen that are tied up with Nissan’s pension insurance. He singled out the bank for responsibility in the crisis. “We want to expand our fight on a nationwide scale,” he said.

In April, the Finance Ministry ordered Nissan Mutual to shut down, the first time an insurance company has had to do so since World War II. The company, with net losses of about 300 billion yen, decided in July to transfer its insurance contracts to the newly created Aoba Life Insurance Co.

Of the 300 billion yen in net losses, 200 billion yen will be covered by a fund contributed to by members of the Life Insurance Association of Japan. As a measure to cover the remaining 100 billion yen, the association plans to reduce insurance and pension payouts.

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