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Announcement:

Moody's: Outlook for Japanese life insurance industry is negative

19 Jan 2009

Tokyo, January 19, 2009 -- The outlook for the Japanese life insurance industry is negative, due to the significant increase in capital impairment risk resulting from the fall in the equity market, despite positives such as a relatively stable business environment and a decline in interest rate risk, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service.

"Industry Outlook: Japanese Life Insurance" comments that the domestic equity market has worsened, especially since October 2008. This means that capital impairment risk is rising due to the expansion of unrealized losses on securities.

"The main concern in 2009 in the Japanese life insurance sector will be capital deterioration due to the expansion of unrealized losses on securities, especially domestic equity," comments Masahiko Miwa, Moody's AVP-Analyst and author of the report.

For the major Japanese life insurers, the equity risk from sales of variable annuities with minimum guarantees is immaterial compared to the risks in the equity holdings in their general account assets.

"However, there is a concern about profitability of the variable annuities with minimum guarantees business. For instance, guarantee fees are typically based on a percentage of an account's value, which declines when the capital market deteriorates. Hence, the current market decline is likely to be cutting into insurers' top lines. At the same time, risk hedging costs likely have risen," Miwa comments.

On the other hand, there is a positive trend at the major Japanese life insurers: They continue to lengthen the duration of their bond portfolios, in the process decreasing the interest rate risk stemming from mismatches between bond portfolios and insurance liabilities.

"Insurers are less vulnerable to falling interest rates, as currently seen. In other words, by fixing income from bonds for a longer term or matching it more appropriately with insurance liability maturities than previously, lower interest rates are less likely to harm insurers' financial soundness via increases in negative spread, as compared with the past," Miwa comments.

The report can be found at www.moodys.com.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; Eric de Bodard in Paris +331-5330-1076; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7 495 228 60 60; Petr Vins in Prague +4202 2422 2929; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852-2916-1150; Hector Lim in Sydney +612 9270 8102; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +5511-3043-7300; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-1253-5700; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; Craig Jamieson in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 401 9536; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

Tokyo
Masahiko Miwa
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Maki Hanatate
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Moody's: Outlook for Japanese life insurance industry is negative
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