TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A managing director for "gyudon" beef bowl restaurant chain Yoshinoya has been dismissed over inappropriate remarks about young women made at a university-hosted lecture, the parent company said Tuesday.
Masaaki Ito, 49, who was also an executive officer at the parent company, Yoshinoya Holdings Co., was speaking Saturday at a Waseda University marketing event for working adults when he likened an approach to targeting young diners to keeping young women captive and getting them addicted to drugs.
According to Yoshinoya Holdings, Ito was attempting to get attendees to propose ideas for making young people fans of beef bowls when he said, "It's like a plan to get a green young girl from the countryside who doesn't know what's what to use (Yoshinoya) for the first time and get her totally hooked."
He prefaced the statement with an apology in case it offended attendees, according to Yoshinoya Holdings.
Yoshinoya Holdings said it dismissed Ito on Monday, stating, "They were significantly inappropriate remarks made officially that are completely unacceptable from the perspective of human rights and gender issues."
The planned Tuesday launch event for an "oyakodon" chicken and egg bowl product was quickly canceled following droves of critical comments against Ito on social media.
Ito joined Yoshinoya as a managing director in October 2018. His removal from both roles was decided at a top-level meeting of Yoshinoya executives. Senior members of Yoshinoya Holdings and its group companies are to receive compliance training in May.
Yoshinoya is a major beef bowl chain offering fast and inexpensive meals of rice topped with meat and other ingredients. It has outlets overseas, including in China and the United States.