The ‘sushi terrorism’ social media trend has landed two Japanese men in jail

Two Japanese men were recently arrested after one of them ate pickled ginger from a communal pot with his own chopsticks. (Keishi Koja/Stars and Stripes)

Japanese police have arrested two Osaka men who appeared in a viral video that is part of a social media trend known as “sushi terrorism” in which participants did things like licking soy sauce bottles or the Doing spitting on sushi rolls on the assembly line.

Ryu Shimazu, 35, was arrested on March 9 and his childhood friend Toshihide Oka, 34, was taken into custody Monday after a video surfaced on social media in February of Shimazu pickling ginger with his own ate chopsticks from a communal pot. a spokeswoman for the Suminoe Police Department in the city of Osaka Stars and Stripes said by phone on Thursday.

Police said the incident, which could transmit germs and make other diners sick, happened on Sept. 29 at a Yoshinoya Beef Bowl restaurant in Osaka.

Two Japanese men were recently arrested after one of them ate pickled ginger from a communal pot with his own chopsticks at a Yoshinoya restaurant in Osaka. (Keishi Koja/Stars and Stripes)

Both men admitted their guilt and remained in police custody on Thursday, the spokeswoman said. Some government officials in Japan are only allowed to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

“I asked Shimazu to do something funny and suddenly he started eating the pickled ginger with his chopsticks,” Oka said, according to the rep. “I thought that was so funny and … uploaded the video to social media.”

Shimazu told police he wanted to “make people laugh.” The video had nearly 6 million views on Twitter as of Thursday.

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The term “sushi-tero,” or sushi terrorism, became a trending topic worldwide earlier this year after videos of sushi restaurant patrons licking unused cups or touching other people’s sushi after licking their fingers racked up tens of millions of views online generated. The practice has been sharply condemned by Japanese high society, which prides itself on cleanliness and politeness.

In certain cases, the restaurants have filed complaints against the perpetrators.

The video, which shows Shimazu scooping ginger into his mouth while Oka laughs off camera, was spotted online in February by a Yoshinoya customer, the police spokeswoman said. The customer notified the restaurant, which notified police on February 9.

Shimazu was arrested at his home in Osaka’s Nishinari district on March 9 and charged the next day with criminal damage and violent business obstruction, the spokeswoman said. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison and a $6,100 fine.

Oka turned himself in on Monday, the spokeswoman said. He has not yet been charged.

The viral video led to the Yoshinoya site being closed for a few hours on Feb. 5 to allow condiments to be changed and utensils to be disinfected, spokesman Yuji Terasawa told Stars and Stripes by phone on Thursday. The chain is asking staff to be more vigilant in observing customers.

Incidents like this “cause fear and uneasiness among customers,” Terasawa said. “It angers us that restaurant safety is being questioned because of these issues.”