2 diners in Japan arrested for dipping their chopsticks into restaurant’s communal container

2 diners in Japan arrested for dipping their chopsticks into restaurant’s communal container2 diners in Japan arrested for dipping their chopsticks into restaurant’s communal container
Michelle De Pacina
April 5, 2023
Police in Japan have arrested two men accused of contaminating a communal container of pickled ginger at a popular beef bowl restaurant chain as part of a prank.
On Sept. 29, 2022, Toshihide Oka, 34, recorded Ryu Shimazu, 35, shoveling pickled ginger from a condiment container in a Yoshinoya restaurant in the Suminoe district of Osaka.
In the video, which was widely shared on social media, Shimazu can be seen using chopsticks that he had eaten with to take some of the toppings from a container, where customers are supposed to use an attached serving utensil.
The video resurfaced in February when a customer notified the chain restaurant about the prank. 
Yoshinoya reported the incident to police and temporarily closed to discard all of its ginger and clean its containers.
The chain, which operates more than 1,100 restaurants nationwide, is known for its “low-priced and quick” specialties, including gyudon, a soy sauce-flavored beef and onion bowl accompanied with rice. 
In a statement, Yoshinoya Holdings Co. said it is a “source of great regret that this has become news that calls into question the safety and security of eating out in general.” 
Shimazu was arrested on March 9 and Oka was arrested this week on suspicion of obstructing business and destroying property, according to officials. 
The pair has reportedly admitted to the charges against them. 
“I wanted to make everyone laugh,” Shimazu told police.
“I asked Shimazu to do something funny. I wanted to show it to everyone because I thought it was funny,” Oka was quoted as saying, adding that they had nothing against the restaurant.
If the men are convicted, they could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 yen (approximately $3,800) for obstructing business and up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 300,000 yen (approximately $2,280) for property destruction.
The arrests come at a time when conveyor belt sushi restaurants are dealing with the aftermath of the “sushi terrorism” trend, where individuals film themselves purposely tampering with food or utensils. 
Last month, police arrested three suspects on suspicion of obstructing the operation of a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Their actions led affected restaurants to deal with customer complaints and conduct additional cleaning.
The viral pranks have prompted many of the rotating kaiten-style restaurants to make changes to protect their businesses, such as suspending conveyor belts and installing AI-operated cameras to monitor customer misbehavior.
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