• Kyodo

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A former employee of Akita Publishing Co. is suing the company for ¥3.3 million in compensation and her job back after she was fired for pointing out the company was lying about how many free prizes it was giving to readers.

The suit against the Tokyo-based firm, which publishes Mystery Bonita, Princess and other manga magazines for girls, was filed Wednesday with the Tokyo District Court by the 28-year-old woman, for whom sending gift products to lucky readers was part of her duties.

Akita Publishing said it fired the woman for pocketing some of the gifts.

According to her lawsuit, the woman joined the firm in 2007 and was assigned to the editorial department, which produces manga for female readers aged 10 to 18. She said when she learned about the inflated number of prizewinners, she reported it to her supervisor.

She claims she was told “not to breathe a word of it to anyone.”

According to her suit, after she protested such conduct, her supervisor and other employees repeatedly harassed her verbally and attempted to force her to quit, saying she would have to leave if she wasn’t going to listen to them.

She says she suffered severe health problems due to the abuse and overwork.

The woman was officially told she would be fired for disciplinary reasons when she was on medical leave in February 2012 for an adjustment disorder, and the dismissal was made official a month later.

“I’ve dreamed of becoming an editor of manga stories since my childhood and this dream has been shattered,” the woman said at a news conference after she filed the suit. “I have never stolen any gifts. I have not received any apologies and I can’t forgive the company.”

The Consumer Affairs Agency determined in August that Akita Publishing had overstated the number of gift winners and ordered the company to take measures preventing any future violations.

Instead of 50 winners who were supposed to receive barrettes with ribbons, only three got their prizes.

Two Nintendo DS Lite game consoles and six ¥10,000 gift certificates good at department stores across Japan also were never sent.

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