Japan: Arrests Made After Wave of 'Sushi Terrorism'

    Photo: Alamy [via The Guardian]

    The Facts

    • On Wednesday, police in Japan arrested two teenagers and a 21-year-old man on suspicion of obstructing a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant's business after videos of their unhygienic pranks sparked outrage online.

    • The pranks — dubbed "sushi terrorism" — involve diners licking shared soy sauce bottles, sucking the rim of a teacup before putting it back, and rubbing saliva on passing sushi pieces on conveyor belts for social media clout.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    The Internet has given a minority of mean-spirited teens and young adults a platform to gain attention, fame, and "likes" and "shares" as proof of their banal online existence. "Sushi terrorism," which overnight invalidated a staple of Japanese culture, is reminiscent of the viral "ice cream challenge" a few years ago — when youngsters posted videos of themselves licking ice cream and putting the tubs back in store freezers. Only harsh punishments, such as heavy fines or jail terms, will spread awareness that such irresponsible acts are a crime and that there will be no copycat acts in the future.

    Narrative B

    Japan is renowned for its exacting cleanliness standards and culinary etiquette. However, the "sushi terrorism" trend violates all food and hygiene norms and blots the sushi train culture. It is extremely problematic and exposes the problem with the conveyor-belt restaurant model — which is based on the belief that people will behave. With rising COVID infections, conveyor-belt sushi chains must re-evaluate their hygiene standards as well as address the chronic labor shortage. Occupational health and safety protocols have needed a review of this dining style for some time.

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