Studio Ghibli President to Resign as Alleged Scandal Rocks the Company

It seems Studio Ghibli cannot catch a break. Earlier this year, the company caught flak over its response to an upsetting controversy involving its theme park in Japan. Now, new reports from overseas are shining an eye on a new Studio Ghibli issue. It turns out the company's president will be stepping down from his post, and this decision comes amid reports detailing co-creator Toshi Suzuki's workplace scandal.

So first, let's break down the basics. Shukan Josei drew attention to the situation in Japan as recent reports confirmed Koji Hoshino, the president of Studio Ghibli, has announced his leave from the company. He plans to leave Studio Ghibli in June after stepping down as president by the end of March. Reports go on to allege Hoshino is leaving as misappropriated funds tied to Studio Ghibli co-creator and producer Toshio Suzuki have come to light.

Allegedly, Suzuki gifted large amounts of money to a Thai woman after the pair were introduced in 2013. These funds allowed the woman to open a restaurant and spa in Thailand, but both endeavors have since been liquidated. Years later in 2018, Suzuki reportedly placed the Thai woman in charge of a Ghibli-backed restaurant in Bangkok before hiring them to as an official photographer for Studio Ghibli despite the woman's lack of experience. Reports suggest employees at Studio Ghibli complained about doing the woman's work while the company continued to cover her wages and travel. In fact, after Studio Ghibli set up a photo exhibition for the woman, one employee said Suzuki "just wants to go to the hot springs with his girlfriend".

Shukan Josei alleges president Hoshino reprimanded Suzuki as employee complaints worsened, and this caused tension between the two executives. Ultimately, reports suggest Hoshino was pressured into resignation. The magazine writes, "Suzuki may have been a great producer in the past, but today [he is] causing consternation within his own company." At this point, Suzuki has not commented on Shukan Josei's expose and neither has any spokesperson for Studio Ghibli.

This controversy is most definitely eyebrow-raising, and Studio Ghibli could do without another scandal. Not long ago, the Ghibli Theme Park sparked a backlash in Japan after a group of guests took photos of themselves sexually harassing character statues. The lewd photos pictured men groping and taking upskirt photos of underage heroines from Studio Ghibli's films. When asked for comment on the situation, Studio Ghibli refrained from condemning the ordeal, and the company's lacking response was critiqued by fans worldwide.

From a business standpoint, the shake-up of Studio Ghibli's upper ranks comes at a difficult time. This year, company co-creator Hayao Miyazaki plans to release his first new movie in years, How Do You Live. The movie is expected to launch in Japan this July, so promotions for the long-awaited Studio Ghibli movie will begin soon. The company's loss in Hoshino will be difficult to navigate at this time, no doubt, but fans are hopeful Miyazaki's next movie will not suffer under that weight. 

HT – Ludovic Gottigny