Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

Patchwork Progress: Brokers Discuss Japanese Earthquake Recovery

Five months after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, some areas are back to normal while others are characterized by temporary housing, piles of rubble and businesses that can't afford to rebuild, with many people still unaccounted for. With a population of 5.7 million, more than 20,000 people were killed and 500,000 suffered damage from the tsunami in the wake of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

We spoke with Paul Atkinson, managing director of the insurance division of Cornes & Co. Ltd., and Yoshiro (“J.R.”) Hyokawa, senior vice president of Kyoritsu Insurance Brokers of Japan Co. Ltd., both members of the Assurex Global network, about the state of recovery in earthquake-stricken Japan. 

 In this photo taken Saturday May 28, 2011, crows perch on the debris inside the obliterated town of Minamisanriku, Japan. Recovery from the March 11, 2011 tsunami is only inching along in the hardest-hit towns. Many survivors remain in limbo, gripped by deep fears and uncertainties that raise questions about Minamisanriku's future. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Q: What is the current status of rebuilding in the earthquake-stricken area? 

In this photo taken Saturday, May 28, 2011, construction equipment is used to remove debris from the devastated town of Minamisanriku, Japan. Three months after the March 11 tsunami obliterated the town, signs of slow progress are visible in Minamisanriku. But even as physical recovery inches along, the town is gripped by deep fears and uncertainties that raise questions about its survival. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Q: Which businesses are rebuilding more quickly?

A construction machine loads iron debris on a truck at a devastated area in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Saturday, April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae):

Q: Have there been any problems getting equipment and material, or site surveys for claims?


A woman walks by the rows of temporary housings for the March 11 earthquake and tsunami survivors at Hibiki Industrial Park in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

 June 27 photo of Ishinomaki City, nearest to the earthquake epicenter. (Photo by Kyoritsu Risk Management)

Q: What sort of earthquake-resistant building standards are mandatory, and do you think the March quake will result in fine tuning these requirements?

June 27 photo of left side of Kitakami River in Ishinomaki City (photo by Kyoritsu Risk Management).

June 27 photo of right side of Kitakami River in Ishinomaki City. Debris was cleared from roads but still remained in the town. Building with blue roof on left is a fish processing factory. (Photo by Kyoritsu Risk Management)

Q: Are you experiencing any problems with insurers regarding claims denials or speed of processing that might be holding up the building process?

Q: Renewals were a problem after the quake. Does pricing still look high?

Hyokawa: Right after the event, insurers in Japan, including foreign insurers, announced:

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