Over a career of 65 years, Dr. Saburo Kawai was responsible for many innovations in the Japanese life insurance industry. He played a key role in the development of actuarial science, in building a life insurance company from the ground up and in serving as a role model for public-spirited citizens.
Based on Dr. Kawai’s pioneering work in creating rating guidelines for life insurance, Japanese companies decided to write insurance on substandard lives and to establish an industry-owned reinsurance company to provide reinsurance cover for the new line.
He founded Kyoei Life in 1947, and under his leadership, that company was the first to introduce large policies, combinations of coverages and accident and sickness insurance in Japan. In 1965, his company created a system of in-kind benefits through its "annuity homes." Under these plans, retirees pay a lump sum and receive a lifetime benefit in the form of a dwelling, food and medical services. So well regarded for his pioneering work, he was appointed in 1957 to a committee, which drafted the obligatory national Pension System of Japan. He also served as President of the International Congress of Actuaries in Tokyo in 1976 and the Institute of Actuaries in Japan established the Kawai Award to honor prominent contributors to actuarial science or practice.
Dr. Kawai has also been a driving force behind several other significant philanthropic activities in the education area. He established the Oriental Life Insurance Cultural Development Center to provide training for insurance personnel in other Asian countries. And he was the recipient of honors from the governments of Japan, Brazil, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea.
In testimony to his mark on the industry and Japanese society, he was honored for his contributions by the Institute of Actuaries in Japan, and he also served as president of the International Congress of Actuaries in Tokyo.