Japan is being rocked by another scandal concerning the #MeToo movement. The newspaper The Asahi Shimbun has reported that Yasuharu Ishikawa, the CEO of Stripe International Inc., had been accused of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct multiple times-In. However, the company decided not to punish him.
The news has been spreading like wildfire across social media, with many Twitter users showcasing their anger towards the company and its CEO.
Stripe International Inc., which is based in the city of Okayama, develops multiple brands including the popular women’s clothing brand “earth music&ecology” (as it’s listed on the company’s website). The Company decided to investigate and have a hearing in December 2018 to discuss the allegations from August 2015 to May 2018.
According to the materials The Asahi Shimbun obtained, evidence that was taken into consideration during the hearing included LINE messages Ishikawa had sent to female staff. Additionally, there were anecdotes like Ishikawa inviting a female staff member to his hotel one morning and then conducting acts without her consent (the report does not go into detail to explain what these acts were).
「アースミュージック＆エコロジー（earth music＆ecology）」などを展開するストライプインターナショナルの石川康晴社長がセクハラ行為などをしたとして、2018年に開かれた「臨時査問会」に示された資料を入手しました。 pic.twitter.com/w4oxy1e05Y
— 朝日新聞東京編集局コブク郎 (@asahi_tokyo) March 5, 2020
The LINE messages Ishikawa sent said things like: “What time are you going to sleep?” “It’s our secret, okay?” “Can you come talk to me at 1:30 for only 15 minutes?” “Is this dangerous?” and “My room is XXX.”
Other incidents included Ishikawa sending inappropriate messages labeled “For your eyes only,” and asking female staff members to go on dates, to meet him at hotel bars, and to go into his hotel room. One of the LINE conversations reviewed contained texts Ishikawa had sent saying things like: “What time are you going to sleep?” “It’s our secret, okay?” “Can you come talk to me at 1:30 for only 15 minutes?” “Is this dangerous?” and “My room is XXX.”
After the hearing, Ishikawa admitted to having invited women to his hotel or for dinner. However, after reviewing all the evidence and hearing Ishikawa’s apology, the company decided not to take any disciplinary actions, instead opting to give Ishikawa a verbal warning.
The news has come to showcase the major problems that Japan faces when it comes to women rights and the punishment of those that sexually assault women.
— 上村由紀子/ライター（演劇・ドラマ・ミュージカル） (@makigami_p) March 6, 2020
Another of Ishikawa’s texts.
In an infuriating turn of events, in March 2019, a few months after the company had investigated him, the Cabinet Office appointed Ishikawa to the Council for Gender Equality. The irony of deciding to place a man who has sexually assaulted women in a position that is supposed to promote and encourage gender equality was not lost to the Japanese public.
This issue has come to illustrate how governments give leadership positions that are supposed to help women to men. To make things even worse, Ishikawa is someone who has spent his time in a powerful and influential position as a CEO denigrating women and treating them as sexual objects. That is enough to make anyone’s blood boil.
The allegations against Ishikawa and the hearing that had taken place in December 2018 had remained unknown for years despite the #MeToo movement reaching Japan in 2017 after Shiori Ito came forward to accuse former reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi of raping her in 2015 when she was an intern at Reuters, and Yamaguchi the Washington bureau chief for the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
As a brand, “earth, music&ecology” is incredibly popular among women, particularly university students. It is unclear whether news regarding Ishikawa will have any negative effects on the many brands under the Stripe International Inc. umbrella.