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Nippon Life Insurance Co. expects to pay ¥50 billion in benefits due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, four times as much as the ¥12.7 billion paid out over the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, said Yoshinobu Tsutsui, the firm’s new president.

“But we may be able to cover such payments with reserves without shaking our financial base,” he said in a recent interview. “We should proactively encourage policyholders and their bereaved families to file life insurance benefit claims.”

Nippon Life has already made such encouragement through newspaper advertisements and bulletin boards at evacuation camps and will mail notices to all policyholders and dispatch employees to their addresses, said Tsutsui, who took the helm of the largest Japanese life insurer April 1.

Tsutsui said Nippon Life holds as many as 52.8 million shares in Tokyo Electric Power Co. and could incur a severe loss on shareholdings due to a steep decline in the Tepco share price amid a nuclear plant crisis since the March 11 disaster.

But he denied the possibility of any immediate Tepco share selloff.

On Tepco’s possible request for loans from Nippon Life, Tsutsui indicated that such a request would be acceptable as far as the loans are expected to contribute to Japan’s postdisaster reconstruction.

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