MIYAZAKI (TR) – The family-friendly mayor of Nichinan City accidentally sent an affectionate message via a smartphone application that was intended for a female subordinate to some 50 city workers instead, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 24).
Mayor Kyohei Sakita, 37, sent the message also containing a kiss emoji to a group chat of government workers on chat app Line saying he “wanted to see” the woman who was absent due to influenza on December 30, according to city officials.
The city was flooded with inquiries in early February after the message quickly went viral. Some netizens said the message constituted sexual harassment, while others took issue with government workers communicating using a chat app.
Screenshots showed Sakita hastily kicking members out of the group chat.
“There’s no inappropriate relationship, and it’s not sexual harassment or power harassment either,” Sakita said at a city council meeting on February 23.
“I apologize for troubling and inconveniencing the city council as well as the citizens.”
The widely circulated message states: “Lecture in the morning, starting now! Collecting information in the afternoon. And, I wanted to meet Eri [kiss emoji] hehe. Poor you with a stuffy nose. I wish it were me instead [sad emoji, hearts emoji].”
“There’s no infidelity”
Sakita has been known for being a part of the so-called ikuboss, or family-friendly boss, concept coined by a professor to refer to superiors who aim to support the work-life balance of their subordinates.
On his official website, Sakita stated: “There’s no infidelity. There’s no sexual harassment or power harassment, but it’s a situation caused by my carelessness. It’s been pointed out to me that my sending a message containing inappropriate content is a matter of the mayor’s dignity and qualities.”
Regarding his official statement, Nikkei Gendai (Feb. 26) reported that there “certainly seems to be a lack of dignity.”