Sompo Japan Chief to Resign over Bigmotor Scandal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
President of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., Giichi Shirakawa

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. said Friday its president, Giichi Shirakawa, will step down to take responsibility for the major nonlife insurer’s inappropriate responses to the issue of fraudulent automobile insurance claims by used car dealer Bigmotor Co.

The timing of his departure and the identity of his successor have not been decided.

“I sincerely apologize for causing great inconvenience and worries to our customers, agents and others involved,” Shirakawa told a press conference the same day.

Kengo Sakurada, chairman of Sompo Holdings Inc., the parent of Sompo Japan, also took part in the press conference, explaining that Shirakawa offered to resign.

Bigmotor has been found to have padded insurance claims by deliberately damaging vehicles customers left in its care for repairs.

The scandal raised allegations that Sompo Japan had mutually beneficial relations with Bigmotor that were unhealthy. Since 2011, Sompo Japan has sent a total of 37 officials to Bigmotor on loan.

In July last year, the company resumed ahead of other insurers the practice of referring auto insurance policyholders who had car accidents to Bigmotor garages, although the executive team including Shirakawa was suspected to be aware of the possibility of fraudulent activities at Bigmotor.

In late July this year, Sompo Japan set up a committee of outside lawyers to investigate the company’s involvement in the wrongdoing. The committee was later transferred to Sompo Holdings.

The Financial Services Agency ordered Sompo Japan and other insurers for which Bigmotor served as an insurance agent to submit reports under the insurance business law over Bigmotor’s fraudulent auto insurance claims.

Sompo Japan submitted its report in late August.

Shirakawa became Sompo Japan president in April 2022.