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Japan's insurance deregulation can serve as model for Asia, MS&AD chief says

Yasuyoshi Karasawa MS & AD Insurance Group CEO speaks at the Nikkei Global Management Forum on Nov. 8.

TOKYO -- Asia's growing population and middle class hold great promise for non-life insurers as the newly affluent look to protect such assets as cars and houses, and Japan's experience in deregulation can serve as a model of how to nurture those markets, according to Yasuyoshi Karasawa, the president and CEO of MS&AD Insurance Group.

Speaking in Tokyo at the Nikkei Global Management Forum on Tuesday, the chief of the Japanese insurance group said that the insurance industry in Japan underwent a series of deregulatory moves in the 1990s in order to adapt to the rapid liberalization and internationalization of the financial world.

He noted that at the time, opposition towards deregulation was rife in the industry, but ultimately led to the restructuring that increased transparency and "played a big role in coming up with services and products that are truly beneficial to our customers," with the market witnessing exponential growth.

The president said that this experience could serve as an useful reference for Asian markets.

"In such Asian countries as India and Indonesia, the population is growing rapidly, and high economic growth is expected to be maintained," said Karasawa. He added that he holds high hopes for the insurance market in Asian countries as motorization and the growth of the middle class continues. Part of his hopes for the region hinges on the fact that MS&AD is the only non-life insurance group in the world to have a presence in all 10 ASEAN countries.

"I think the deregulation path that Japan's non-life insurance industry took can serve as a useful reference [for the region's insurance market]," Karasawa said. "When you look at developing economies, in the middle to long term, deregulation leads to [economic] development. I thoroughly hope that Asia, including the ASEAN Economic Community, maintains its drive for liberalization."

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