Photo/IllutrationA former chief of the legal affairs division of Ryukakusan Co. speaks at a news conference in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 6. (Ken Sakakibara)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

A former legal affairs division chief of herbal candy producer Ryukakusan Co. has sued the company, saying she was wrongly fired for investigating a sexual harassment complaint against the president.

The plaintiff in her 50s filed the lawsuit on June 6 at the Tokyo District Court, demanding reinstatement in the company and payments for the salary she lost after her dismissal.

Ryukakusan has denied sexual harassment occurred, and the president, Ryuta Fujii, has said the accusations against him are false.

“I wanted to forget about it,” the woman said at a news conference with her lawyers on June 6. “But to prevent others from becoming victims, I concluded it was necessary to restore soundness in the company and I mustered up the courage to file the lawsuit.”

According to the lawsuit, at an end-of-year “bonenkai” party on Dec. 6, 2018, Fujii hugged a female employee and said things like, “The back of your neck excites me.”

Other participants later informed the legal affairs division chief about the president’s actions at the party, the woman said.

She said she listened to a description of the incident from the female employee, who also asked that a contact point be established at the company where victims of sexual harassment can consult with third-party experts.

However, the woman said Fujii summoned her to his office on Dec. 17 and said, “Sexual harassment has not occurred, so it’s outrageous that you are fabricating such an incident.”

The woman was ordered to remain on stand-by at her home and was fired as of March 28.

The company on its website on June 6 posted a message that said, “We asked an independent law firm to investigate the matter but received a report that sexual harassment was not confirmed.”

The woman’s lawyers said they have witness accounts from attendees of the bonenkai and asserted that the dismissal was an abuse of power conducted by the company.

Ryukakusan, known for its herbal candy of the same name, is an unlisted family-run company that was founded in Tokyo’s Kanda district in 1871.

Fujii is the eighth-generation president of the family. After he took over the post in 1995, he rebuilt the company’s management by producing new products, such as jelly to help ingest medicine.

He is also known as a flute player.