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Tokyo 'wagashi' sweets firm chief resigns after road rage incident spreads online

A screenshot from the Funabashiya Co. website.

TOKYO -- A long-established Japanese "wagashi" confectionery company announced on Sept. 28 that its president would resign after video of his raging response to a car accident trended on social media, sparking severe criticism of his actions.

    According to Funabashiya Co., based in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, President Masashi Watanabe was driving a passenger car through an intersection in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Aug. 24 when he collided with another vehicle turning right.

    Dashcam video from the other vehicle showed Watanabe, 58, getting out of his car and yelling, "Where the hell did you come from, you son of a bitch!" followed by the sound of him kicking the vehicle's door. The video spread on Twitter, and many people posted comments condemning Watanabe's behavior, such as "I didn't realize that such an antisocial person was the president," and "I'm shocked because I really like their delicious kuzumochi," referring to the firm's signature sweet.

    The company stated that the accident and his response as seen in the video were generally an accurate record of events, and unacceptable.

    Watanabe reported the accident to police, apologized to the other party, and a settlement was reached. He apparently did not notice the intersection light had turned red before he entered it, and struck a car entering from the right.

    The company explained that "immediately after the accident, he became agitated because he thought he had been hit by the other car, leading to the behavior shown in the video." Watanabe has fully admitted his negligence and offered his resignation on Sept. 28.

    Funabashiya plans to accept his resignation and commented, "We apologize again to our customers and other concerned parties for any concern or inconvenience caused by online postings regarding the accident and his subsequent behavior." It will also consider measures to prevent a recurrence.

    The company was founded in the Edo period (1603-1867) and produces Japanese sweets, especially "kuzumochi" and "anmitsu." It runs many shops in department stores in Tokyo and other locations.

    (Japanese original by Kei Tsuchiya, Business News Department)

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