In 1946, as Japan rebuilt from World War II, General Douglas MacArthur invited AIG to enter the country and sell insurance to U.S. military personnel. At that time, American companies could not sell directly to Japanese citizens.
The working conditions were difficult at first—AIG was furnished with just one room and one desk—but the relationship positioned AIG as a reliable business partner in Japan. In 1949, it was the first company to earn a license from the government to provide fire, marine and business casualty insurance to Japanese citizens.
As Japan’s economy improved and business expanded, AIG provided services that aided the country’s continued growth. One line of business that proved integral to success in Japan was automotive insurance. As a service-oriented product, it built trust between citizens and the company.
Another opportunity that solidified AIG’s place in the country came from aiding small businesses during the 1950s and 1960s. Instead of focusing solely on Tokyo, the company established branches across much of Japan to court small firms, which accounted for over 90 percent of corporatized businesses in the country, and was largely underserved by Japanese insurers.
As Japan expanded economically, AIG’s offerings evolved to suit the country’s changing needs, but community remained at the heart of these offerings. In 1971, AIG forged a partnership with the Hojinkai —analogous to a U.S. chamber of commerce—and built a new product to protect a small business if it lost a key person, such as the business owner. The offering combined life, medical and accident coverage, all in one.
Through this plan, the relationship grew, allowing AIG to become a preferred offering at PTAs, doctors’ associations and other small business groups. These relationships continue to this day, giving AIG the opportunity to talk to members about risks and fashion services to ease their concerns.
This success has allowed AIG to position its Japan business for growth long into the future. In January 2018, AIG successfully merged its non-life Japanese insurance businesses—AIU and Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance—into one entity. Upon completion of the merger, AIG General Insurance became the largest foreign non-life insurance company in Japan.
By taking advantage of such opportunities, providing the right services and building lasting relationships, AIG Japan has become the company’s largest business segment outside the United States, with a long and proud history of close community relations.