Japan Post to probe information leak scandal under new chief
New Japan Post Holdings Co. President Hiroya Masuda vowed Thursday to investigate the leak of information on administrative punishments on the group related 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.
Masuda thus reversed the policy of not investigating the scandal, a stance taken 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 information leak scandal came to light last month. Then-vice internal affairs minister Shigeki Suzuki was found to have provided information 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 wrongdoing, and the latter was also forced to resign.
“We’ll boost efforts to fully uncover the insurance sales scandal as soon as possible and eliminate disadvantages inflicted on customers,” Masuda said. He and the two units’ new presidents took office Monday.
On the reason for launching the investigation into the information leak scandal, Masuda said that the group’s value as a private company “has been damaged” due to the cozy public-private relationship.
Although Nagato stopped short of investigating the matter further, Masuda said he came to believe after the turn of the year that the policy is wrong.
He also said that the group will refrain from being involved in the practice of amakudari (descent from heaven), in which bureaucrats land lucrative post-retirement jobs at organizations or companies they formerly oversaw, based on the 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 will consider cost-cutting measures while maintaining its post office network across the country.
The Japan Post Holdings group’s internal survey has found some 183,000 insurance contracts that may have been disadvantageous to customers in the five years through March 2019, including 12,836 suspected of violating the law or the group’s internal rules.
As part of administrative penalties announced late last year, the group has been banned from selling its “Kampo” insurance products for three months.