Two Men Face 3 Years in Prison for 'Sushi Terrorism' Prank

The social media views just aren't worth it.

A person grabs a tray off a conveyor belt at a sushi restaurant

Philip Fong / AFP via Getty Images

Japanese restaurants have had enough with so-called "sushi terrorism."

On Wednesday, Osaka prefectural police announced the arrests of Ryu Shimazu and Toshihide Oka, two men who posted their recent antics to social media. The video shows them eating pickled ginger from a communal container with personal chopsticks at a local Yoshinoya, the Associated Press reported. 

The men openly confessed to their crimes, stating they wanted to make people laugh as they joined in on the  hashtag "#寿司テロ," which translates to "sushi terror."

As Business Insider explained, the trend involves pranksters visiting popular conveyor belt sushi restaurants, taking things off the belt, licking them, touching them, or smothering them in wasabi before returning the item to the belt for other unassuming diners to take. 

Restaurants have started to fight back, filing police reports against particularly egregious videos or those that gain significant attention. 

As for this particular video, Oka told the police he egged on Shimazu to “do something funny” and then shared the video because he simply wanted the attention. According to the AP, if convicted, the duo could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $3,800 for obstructing business, and up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $2,280 for property destruction.

“It is truly regrettable that this news has caused discomfort and anxiety among customers and has called into question the safety and security of eating out in general,” a spokesperson for the Yoshinoya, which operates about 1,000 restaurants across the nation, shared with The Guardian. “We sincerely hope this will not happen again.”

Shimazu and Oka aren’t the only ones with a newly minted arrest record thanks to an extremely unhygienic prank. According to the Japan Times, three more people were arrested in early March for similar crimes, including one person who drank soy sauce straight from a bottle. 

These actions have caused restaurants in Japan to take extreme measures to protect their patrons, including everything from installing AI-assisted cameras to removing the beloved sushi conveyor belts altogether. However, some restaurants are hoping that would be a last resort,

“We’re making changes to have a tamper-proof system,” Akihiro Tsuji, a spokesperson for Kura Sushi, told The Guardian. “Conveyor belt sushi, in a way, is a form of entertainment, and that sense of fun is something we’d like to preserve.”

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