A new law in Japan that took effect yesterday—the first overhaul of its financial regulation system in 20 years—is aimed at encouraging its citizens to move some $13 trillion in savings into stocks and bonds, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The new law, the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, is far reaching, covering everything from marketing practices for stocks, bonds and mutual funds to registration requirements for private equity funds and hedge funds to stock trading practices to corporate reporting procedures and certification of financial statements. Also, Japanese companies will be required to report earnings every quarter, not only twice a year.
In addition, Japan Post, which not only handles mail but banking and insurance, will become private over the next 10 years, resulting in a holding company with four subsidiaries. With that, the Japanese are expected to move the $1.6 trillion they have in savings with Japan Post and the $1.5 trillion in the nation’s two biggest banks into mutual funds and variable annuities. The nation’s 25,000 post offices began selling a range of financial products two years ago, including mutual funds. Currently they have $8.5 billion in fund assets.
Japan is actively working on ways to prompt its citizens to earn higher returns in order to fund their retirement, and by putting more securities regulations in place, the hope is that this will build investor confidence. In the past, many Japanese have been harmed by unscrupulous financial services companies, which is why most Japanese have their money in bank accounts paying less than 1%.
“It is a whole modernization of the law,” said Christopher Wells, a securities lawyer with White & Case.