Coverage of households by “kampo” postal life insurance dropped below 60 percent in fiscal 2003 for the first time in 12 years, the government said Tuesday.

The coverage rate fell 5.1 percentage points from fiscal 2000 to 56.1 percent in the year ended last March, continuing a downtrend after peaking at 64.7 percent in fiscal 1997, it said in a triennial survey.

Officials at the posts ministry attributed the fall to a prolonged economic slump that discouraged households from spending.

But the fall was far faster than the drop of 1.5 percentage points in the private-sector life insurance coverage rate.

Private-sector life insurance products may be more attractive because they contain cancer and other nonlife insurance services that the postal insurance does not, they said.

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