Yoshinoya Holdings Co. has fired a top executive after it compared the restaurant operator’s marketing strategy to the beef bowl to drugging young women.
Masaaki Ito, business development manager, made remarks to that effect as a guest lecturer for a marketing program at Waseda University, a school representative wrote in an email. The comments were unacceptable and Ito was removed from his speaking duties, the institution said in a separate statement.
Ito has been removed from his position at Yoshinoya, the company revealed in a deposit with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday. While the Tokyo-based franchise confirmed he made inappropriate comments, which emerged on social media, Yoshinoya did not elaborate on what was said.
Going further in outlining his marketing philosophy, Ito said his goal was to get young country girls addicted to beef bowls, like getting them addicted to meth, before they met men and n opt for more expensive meals. Waseda confirmed the comments.
Yoshinoya is known for its quick and cheap beef dishes served over bowls of rice, as well as other menu items. Yoshinoya, which operates over 2,700 stores in Japan and overseas, has a woman on its board of directors, according to the website. The company said in the statement that it applies compliance measures and seeks to educate its staff on understanding the rules, in connection with its governance page.
“He made incredibly inappropriate remarks regarding gender and human rights issues” leading to his dismissal, Yoshinoya said in the filing. “To date, we have absolutely no contractual relationship with this individual.”
Yasutaka Kawamura, the president of Yoshinoya, takes a 30% pay cut for three months. A product launch event scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled, the Nikkei newspaper reported without attribution. Yoshinoya’s stock fell 1.7% in Tokyo on Tuesday. The stock had risen 5.3% this year before the remarks were made public.
“The individual in question also deeply regrets the remark that made people feel uncomfortable,” Yoshinoya said in the statement, adding that Ito had written an apology and would also apologize in person.
“We deeply regret this matter,” the company said. “We are really sorry.”
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