Hiroya Masuda, the new president at Japan Post Holdings Co., vowed Thursday to investigate a leak to the group of information about administrative punishments that were under consideration in relation to its improper sales of insurance products.

“We’re preparing to open investigations,” Masuda said at his first news conference since taking office as leader of the postal and financial service group.

With the comments, Masuda signaled a reversal of previous policy not to investigate the scandal — a decision by his predecessor, Masatsugu Nagato, who resigned to take the blame for the inappropriate insurance sales, together with the chiefs of two units, Japan Post Insurance Co. and Japan Post Co.

The leak of information came to light last month. Then-vice internal affairs minister Shigeki Suzuki was found to have provided details on the administrative penalties to Yasuo Suzuki, then-senior executive vice president of the holding firm and former vice internal affairs minister. The former was sacked following the revelation of the misconduct, and the latter was also forced to resign.

“We’ll boost efforts to fully uncover (all details of) the insurance sales scandal as soon as possible and eliminate the disadvantages inflicted on customers,” Masuda said. He and the new presidents of the two units took office Monday.

On the reason for launching the investigation into the information leak, Masuda said that the group’s value as a private company “has been damaged” due to the cozy relationship between the public and private bodies.

Although Nagato had stopped short of investigating the matter further, Masuda said he came to believe after the turn of the year that the policy was wrong.

He also said that the group would refrain from being involved in the practice of amakudari (descent from heaven) — in which bureaucrats secure lucrative post-retirement jobs at organizations or companies over which they had previous had oversight — citing instructions from internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi.

At the same news conference, new Japan Post Insurance President Tetsuya Senda vowed to regain public trust and make his company a customer-oriented entity.

Kazuhide Kinugawa, new president of Japan Post Co., said he would consider cost-cutting measures while maintaining the firm’s post office network across the country.

An internal investigation by the Japan Post Holdings group found some 183,000 insurance contracts that may have been disadvantageous to customers were sold in the five years through March 2019, including 12,836 in which violations of the law or the group’s internal rules were suspected.

As part of administrative penalties announced late last year, the group has been banned from selling its “Kampo” insurance products for three months.

The group plans to report progress on its investigation into the insurance sale scandal when it compiles its business improvement program late this month.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.