Police in central Japan have arrested three suspects accused of tampering with a restaurant’s conveyor belt sushi as part of a viral “sushi terrorism” prank.
On Wednesday, police in Aichi prefecture announced that they arrested two men, aged 21 and 19, and a 15-year-old girl on suspicion of obstructing the operation of a Kura Sushi conveyor-belt restaurant in Nagoya City.
According to police, 21-year-old Yoshino Ryoga put his saliva on sushi and utensils and licked the spout of a soy sauce dispenser while the 19-year-old filmed him on Feb. 3. The restaurant submitted a damage report to the police, noting that the three had taken part in “extremely malicious nuisance.”
Their actions led the chain operator to deal with customer complaints and conduct additional cleaning at the restaurant.
Investigators have yet to disclose whether the arrested have admitted to the charge.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Kura Sushi said that the arrests will help the public to recognize that the pranks are considered a crime.
Our company will continue to strive to further improve the system to prevent such nuisances so that customers can enjoy their meals safely and comfortably. We will continue to do our best to … grow the conveyor belt sushi culture that is dear to Japan globally.
The chain also hopes that there will be no more instances of similar actions.
Viral videos of the wave of pranks dubbed “sushi terrorism” by the public and media surfaced on social media in January, prompting the parent companies of affected restaurants to take legal action.
In one incident, a Japanese student was filmed licking his fingers before touching conveyor belt sushi at an Akindo Sushiro branch in Gifu prefecture.
Although the student and their guardian have come forward to apologize, Food & Life Companies Ltd., the restaurant chain’s parent firm, said that they will still take action, from both criminal and civil perspectives.
In another incident at a Hamasushi branch, a man was filmed putting wasabi on sushi ordered by another diner as their plate passed by him.
Following news of the “sushi terrorism,” many of the rotating kaiten-style restaurants have since made changes to protect their businesses.
The incident has prompted Akindo Sushiro to temporarily suspend conveyor belts in their branches and instead offer touch panels for diners to place orders.
Hamasushi plans to replace their conveyor belts with a “straight lane” to zipline sushi orders directly to diners.
As for Kura Sushi, the chain said it would monitor for customer misbehavior using AI-operated cameras.