MUFG starts proxy service for dementia sufferers

A leading Japanese financial group has started a proxy service for elderly people with dementia.

From Monday, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is allowing customers with declining cognitive capacity to pre-designate family members to conduct transactions on their behalf at the group's banks and securities firms.

The proxy will be limited to the account-holder's family in principle.

The relative will be able to withdraw money from accounts and sell stocks for customers who are confirmed to be incapable of such activities. A doctor's diagnosis or similar document will be needed.

Japan prohibits financial transactions when the account-holder's wishes cannot be confirmed.

In such cases, financial institutions permit the use of legal proxies under the adult guardianship system, but the appointment process is time-consuming and costly.

The Japanese Bankers Association revised its policy last month to allow proxy requests for necessary transactions, such as paying medical bills.

Senior MUFG Bank official Izumi Kazumasa says the demand for proxies is likely to grow with some studies estimating that one in five elderly people in Japan will develop dementia. He says financial services must complement the legal system.