An executive from Japanese restaurant chain Yoshinoya was fired for making a sexist remark during a marketing lecture over the weekend.
In a statement Tuesday, Yoshinoya Holdings Co., the chain’s parent company, confirmed that it had fired Managing Director Masaaki Ito on Monday due to his “intolerable remarks regarding human rights and gender.”
Ito, who was speaking as a guest lecturer at Waseda University in Tokyo on Saturday, reportedly asked other participants to come up with a strategy that would “get country girls hooked on [Yoshinoya] like drug addicts while they are still naive virgins,” according to a participant who complained on social media.
“They won’t eat [gyudon] once they start getting treated to expensive meals by men,” the Yoshinoya executive reportedly added, referring to the chain’s signature beef over rice dish.
The participant who complained said they were disappointed and angered by the lecture that was part of an “expensive course at a prestigious university.”
The incident immediately went viral on social media, prompting many to call the remarks in the lecture insulting to women and people from the countryside.
“I can’t believe I had to listen to this on campus,” one post on Facebook read. “They don’t have awareness on (corporate) compliance. I was beyond disappointed, feeling anger and despair.”
Waseda University has apologized for the incident in a statement, saying they will “once again thoroughly warn lecturers in advance and work to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.”
Yoshinoya also apologized for “causing trouble and unpleasant feelings” following the controversial event, saying, “The choice of words and expression used during the lecture were extremely inappropriate and could not be tolerated.”
The statement indicated that Ito, who joined the company in 2018, admitted his mistake and expressed regret for his remark at the lecture.
The company will reportedly reduce Yoshinoya Holdings President Yasutaka Kawamura’s salary by 30% from April to June following the incident and has canceled an event that was supposed to be attended by model Nicole Fujita for the launch of a new “oyakodon” product, or chicken and egg rice bowl, that was scheduled for Tuesday.