3 Arrested in Japan in Connection with 'Sushi Terrorism' Stunts

A 21-year-old man and two teens were arrested following an unsanitary prank at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant

Customers dine at the newly-opened global flagship store for Kura Sushi, a Japanese conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain, in the popular tourist area of Asakusa in Tokyo on January 22, 2020.
Customers dine at a conveyor sushi location in Japan. Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty

Three people have been arrested in Japan following their alleged connection to what's being described as "sushi terrorism" — unsanitary pranks at sushi conveyer belt restaurants that have been captured on viral video and have sparked outrage.

Police in the city of Nagoya arrested 21-year-old Ryoga Yoshino — alleging he is the person who licked a bottle of soy sauce in a widely-circulated video — as well two teens, ages 19 and 15.

Authorities say, per The New York Times, that the three were being held for "forcible obstruction of business," a charge that has a maximum penalty of three years in jail.

The alleged "sushi terrorism" incident took place at a Kura Sushi conveyor-belt sushi restaurant on Feb. 3. Police say that after the circulation of the video, the restaurant's management company had to deal with compensation claims which made it "difficult to conduct normal business," the Times reports.

A plate of tuna sushi on a conveyor belt at Kura Sushi Inc.'s Harajuku store in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Over the years, some sushi chains have introduced more non-traditional options like fried chicken and sushi using spices and mayonnaise, the kind popular with younger eaters and tourists. Kura Sushi is even selling dessert crepes at its Harajuku store.
A dish is shown at a conveyor sushi location in Japan. Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty

A spokesperson for Kura Sushi told the BBC that the trend — which has been happening since January on social media — is "extremely dangerous."

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"Conveyor belt sushi is something we are proud of as part of Japanese culture. We want to make sure our customers can eat sushi delivered on the belt safely and comfortably," he said.

All suspects involved allegedly admitted to their involvement in the prank, with one allegedly apologizing to authorities, according to reports.

The statuses of their cases were unclear.

NPR reports that the restaurant chain filed a complaint for damages with police.

Now, conveyor belt sushi restaurants are looking to alleviate customer concerns. While some chains (such as Choushimaru) have opted to not use conveyor belts altogether, per the BBC, discount chain Sushiro now aims to have customers order off a touch screen — rather than grabbing their food off the belt — and Kura Sushi aims to use artificial intelligence to crack down on unsanitary behavior, per the Times.

This method will involve an existing network of cameras at tables that will keep an eye on customer behavior. And, if a person is caught returning a plate that has been tampered with, an alarm will sound for staff to report the incident to police.

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