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Japan food chain Yoshinoya fires exec over 'get virgins hooked on beef bowls' remark

This image taken from the website of Yoshinoya Co. shows the company's beef bowl.

TOKYO -- The operator of major "gyudon" beef bowl chain Yoshinoya Co. has fired an executive who discussed a marketing strategy to "get virgins hooked on beef bowls" in a public lecture on April 16, the company announced on April 19.

    Yoshinoya had issued a formal apology the day before.

    A person claiming to have been at the lecture posted the comments on social media. The executive, Yoshinoya's planning department general manager and an executive director, was quoted as saying the company's marketing should "make young girls who've just left home in the countryside addicted to beef bowls while they're still virgins." He allegedly added, "Once men treat them to expensive meals, they definitely won't eat beef bowls anymore."

    Yoshinoya acknowledged the remarks to the Mainichi Shimbun before explaining that they were made "with the aim of making one-time customers into regulars." In its April 18 statement, Yoshinoya apologized "for causing great inconvenience and discomfort." It also said that the executive's "choice of words and expressions was extremely inappropriate, and cannot be tolerated from a human rights and gender issues standpoint."

    In addition to Yoshinoya Holdings Co.'s firing of the executive, the chain announced the day before that it would cancel an April 19 product launch press event to be attended by model Nicole Fujita. The new product, an "oyakodon" rice bowl with egg and chicken, was to roll out on schedule nationwide the same day.

    Lecture host Waseda University said that the head of the school's public education programs apologized to the participants at the venue after the talk. The university told reporters, "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 also stated on its website that it would have the executive step down as a lecture speaker.

    (Japanese original by Hiroki Masuda, Digital News Center)

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