Japan’s largest food chain Yoshinoya has fired its managing director Masaaki Ito, following backlash over his alleged sexist remarks made during a lecture at Waseda University.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said that Ito has been sacked for making “absolutely unacceptable” remarks. According to reports about the incident, he allegedly compared the restaurant’s marketing strategy to drugging young women.
“His extremely unacceptable words and deeds could not be tolerated from the point of view of human rights and gender issues,” the company said. According to a report in Bloomberg, he has also been dismissed as a guest lecturer from the company.
During a lecture at the university, Ito had urged students in the audience to “make young girls who’ve just left home in the countryside addicted to beef bowls while they’re still virgins.” He further stated that “once men treat them to expensive meals, they definitely won’t eat beef bowls anymore.”
His remarks came to light after they were widely reported and shared on social media. The users even called for a boycott of the restaurant. “I liked beef bowl of Yoshinoya. But when I see this discriminatory remark by board member of Yoshinoya, I was really shocked, disappointed and very very angry. Honestly I never want to eat beef bowl of Yoshinoya anymore,” wrote Twitter user Yuika Shimizu.
The company announced Ito’s dismissal in a filing with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday. “He made incredibly inappropriate remarks regarding gender and human rights issues. As of today we have absolutely no contractual relationship with this individual,” said Yoshinoya.
It further stated that the “person in question also deeply regrets the remark that made people feel uncomfortable,” and that he will apologise in person as well. “We are very sorry,” said the company.
Yoshinoya is famous for its fast, cheap meals of beef served atop bowls of rice. It operates more than 2,700 stores in Japan and overseas but only has one woman on its board, according to the company’s website.