Yoshinoya, one of Japan’s largest food chains, has fired its managing director who sparked outrage for allegedly making sexist remarks during a university lecture.
Masaaki Ito, a managing director at the fast food chain famously known for its inexpensive bowls of beef on rice, was sacked for making “absolutely unacceptable” remarks, the company said in a statement.
“His extremely unacceptable words and deeds could not be tolerated from the point of view of human rights and gender issues,” the company said.
The executive of the company made the remarks during a marketing lecture at Tokyo’s Waseda University during the weekend.
He suggested to the aspiring students to “make young girls who’ve just left home in the countryside addicted to beef bowls while they’re still virgins”, according to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun. He added that “once men treat them to expensive meals, they definitely won’t eat beef bowls anymore.”
His derogatory remarks were widely reported and went viral on social media with users saying they were left “shocked” and “angry” at the discriminatory remark while calling for a boycott of its outlets.
“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,” Yuika Shimizu, a Twitter user said.
Yoshinoya said that Mr Ito wrote an apology and will apologize in person as well. “We deeply regret this matter,” the company said. “We are very sorry.”
The university where the lecture was held also apologised for his comments and said they would remove him from the position of a guest lecturer.
“We are aware that many people were offended after finding out about the (executive’s comments) on social media and the news. We deeply apologize as the organizer of the event,” it said according to the newspaper.
Yoshinoya is one of the leading fast food chains in Japan with 2,700 outlets in the country and many more overseas. The company has only one woman on its board, according to the website, while it is striving to expand the appeal of its dishes to women in recent years.