Staff writer

Yasokazu Yamaguchi, 65, a Tokyo wholesaler of Buddhist altar fittings, is one of the 1.1 million “victims” of a formerly unimaginable development — the failure of a life insurance company.

The liquidation plan of Nissan Mutual Life Insurance Co., unveiled in late June, prompted the otherwise friendly Yamaguchi to organize angry policyholders. He leads 5,000 policyholders and supporters in the Kanto region and is forming a nationwide network to demand the scrapping of the liquidation plan, which he says will “force an unfair burden on policyholders.”

Yamaguchi’s contingent is even considering suing parties, including the Finance Ministry and commercial banks, which the group believes are responsible. “This is nothing but fraud,” Yamaguchi said in an interview, referring to expected losses for the policyholders.

The liquidation scheme, designed by the Life Insurance Association of Japan, the administrator of the failed firm’s insurance, will cut policyholders’ benefits by up to 70 percent.

A rough calculation by Yamaguchi’s group shows the policyholders would theoretically suffer a combined loss of several trillion yen, although the association dismisses this as unrealistic. Nissan Mutual, the nation’s 16th-largest life insurer, went bankrupt with net losses of 300 billion yen in late April, following the Finance Ministry’s first order for this type of liquidation since World War II.

The liquidation scheme was legally approved earlier this month because the number of objecting policyholders was not high enough to scrap the plan. Only 4,200 out of the 1.1 million policyholders expressed an objection in August. Following the outcome, the Life Insurance Association is expected to transfer Nissan Mutual’s contracts to the newly created Aoba Life Insurance Co. on Oct. 1.

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