Business / Corporate

Three Japan Post Group leaders expected to resign over insurance sales scandal

JIJI, Bloomberg

Japan Post Holdings Co. President Masatsugu Nagato and two other group leaders are expected to resign over Japan Post Insurance Co.’s irregular insurance product sales, it was learned Wednesday.

The other two are Japan Post Insurance President Mitsuhiko Uehira and Japan Post Co. President Kunio Yokoyama, sources said.

Japan Post Holdings is expected to convene a nomination committee meeting to discuss the resignations and successor candidates Friday. Former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda has been floated as a replacement for Nagato, while the other two posts will likely be filled by internal candidates.

The management change comes amid allegations that Japan Post group employees cheated policyholders because of pressure to meet sales targets. A third-party probe last week found 12,836 cases where customers said they were subjected to problematic insurance sales practices.

The incident has also forced the government to consider holding off on its plan to sell shares in Japan Post Holdings, according to people familiar with the situation.

When asked about his possible resignation, Nagato told a news conference last week he would announce his decision at an “appropriate time.”

The third-party panel report painted a damning picture of Japan Post’s work culture, in which employees were chastised in front of colleagues for poor performance. The scandal has shocked the Japanese public, especially in rural areas, where many people rely on the nation’s 24,000 post offices for financial services as well as mail delivery.

Nagato, a former senior Mizuho Bank executive, became CEO of Japan Post Holdings in April 2016 after his predecessor was hospitalized. Masuda started his career as a central government bureaucrat and served as governor of Iwate Prefecture. He was also chairman of a government panel overseeing Japan Post’s privatization process from 2013 to 2016.

On Friday, Shigeki Suzuki, the top bureaucrat at the internal affairs ministry, resigned after leaking information on administrative penalties to Japan Post Holdings.

Therefore, another focus is whether Yasuo Suzuki, senior executive vice president at Japan Post Holdings, who received information on the punishments from the top bureaucrat, will resign.