Japan has a troubled relationship with feminism to put it mildly.

Remember Bijin Uketsuke, the “beautiful receptionist” app? Or the jeers Ayaka Shiomura had to endure in the Tokyo Assembly from her older male colleagues? Or Kanagawa’s attempt to promote female empowerment in the corporate sector with a gallery of guys?

Here’s another example to add to that dubious litany.

H.I.S. Travel, one of Japan’s major travel agencies, has been forced to cancel a promotional campaign where it offered travelers the chance to be accompanied by “beautiful girls” from the University of Tokyo.

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A mere 12 hours after it launched on Wednesday, a barrage of complaints and negative buzz on Twitter led to the company pulling the promo stunt.

Five college students, who have all appeared in an equally contentious biannual book that showcases attractive female scholars in an attempt to show that University of Tokyo students are not all bookworms, were to be available to customers chosen by lottery. Customers would then get the chance to sit next to the young lady of their choosing for the duration of their flight to their destination. She would then entertain you with intelligent conversation, seemingly proving true the recent controversial comments by politician Tsuneo Akaeda that women who continue their education end up as hostesses.

We are also surprised that the University of Tokyo didn’t try to stop H.I.S., since the campaign potentially cheapens the reputation of the most prestigious college in Japan. Imagine the reaction if an American travel agency ran a “Harvard Hotties” campaign?

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