First Arrests Made in Creepy Japan Trend: 'Sushi Terrorism'

Videos made in restaurants showed people licking items on conveyor belt
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2023 2:19 PM CST
‘Sushi Terrorism’ Is a Weird New Viral Trend in Japan
Sushi in a conveyor belt   (Karina Mako Oktaviani / Getty Images)

"Sushi terrorism" is a viral prank that took over Japanese social media in February and has prompted restaurants that serve sushi on conveyor belts to take legal action—as evidenced by three recent arrests, reports the BBC. One video showing so-called "sushi tero" that garnered early attention showed a boy licking his fingers then touching others' sushi, and licking cups and bottles of soy sauce. The Washington Post reports that Sushiro, the chain behind the restaurant where the incident occurred, made a legal complaint in part because it said the video led its stock to tank by nearly $125 million. In the month since, reports the Guardian, other sushi restaurants have begun removing the very thing that made them popular in the first place: the conveyor belts.

Agence France-Presse (via NBC) reports the three arrests occurred in Aichi prefecture, where police detained a 15-year-old girl and two men, ages 19 and 21. An investigation determined they were connected with a February 3 video that appeared to show one of the trio taking a swig from a communal bottle of soy sauce. The Guardian notes the example of Tokyo-area chain Choshimaru, which responded to another video featuring a diner dropping a cigarette into pickled ginger by shutting down the conveyor belts altogether; it now has staff bring orders to diners by hand. Staff have also been supplying each new dining party with fresh utensils and other supplies to remove the ability to continue contaminating food.

Kura Sushi, another chain that built its popularity around the convenience of serving on conveyor belts, is set to take a different approach entirely, reports the Guardian. Kura will place cameras enhanced with artificial intelligence in restaurants that can allegedly spot odd customer behavior that might indicate a prank is taking place. Hiroyuki Okamoto, Kura Sushi's head of public relations, told Japanese media that "sushi terrorism" isn't just "a crisis" for his chain, "but for the entire conveyor belt sushi industry." (Read more sushi stories.)

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