Midsized Japanese insurer goes bankrupt

TOKYO -- A medium-sized Japanese insurance company went bankrupt Friday, becoming the first Japanese financial company to collapse on the fallout from the global credit crisis.

"We are deeply sorry and offer apologies from the bottom of our hearts," Yamato Life Insurance President Takeo Nakazono said, bowing deeply on nationally televised news.

Most Japanese banking and other institutions have averted the serious damage of their U.S. and European counterparts from the U.S. financial crisis.

Yamato, with about 1,000 employees and 1 trillion yen ($10 billion) in individual policy accounts, appears so far to be a relatively unusual case in Japan.

Nakazono said the company fell $111 million in the red because of an unusually swift and drastic fall in global stock prices stemming from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

Nearly all of the insurance policies will be protected, according to Japanese media reports.

Yamato officials were not immediately available for comment. The company was founded in 1911, according to its Web page.

Yamato racked up $2.7 billion in losses, largely from stock holding losses related to the U.S. financial problems, Kyodo News reported.