Japan: "Sushi terrorism": Disgusting videos from customers go viral - and call the police into action

The media call it "unhygienic", while people on social networks call it "sick" and "disgusting".

Japan: "Sushi terrorism": Disgusting videos from customers go viral - and call the police into action

The media call it "unhygienic", while people on social networks call it "sick" and "disgusting". Videos from Japanese sushi restaurants have been circulating on Twitter, Instragam and TikTok in recent days, where customers are abusing other guests' food in a rather disgusting way. All of the incidents that went viral under the term "sushi tero" ("sushi terrorism") occurred in restaurants where the Japanese specialty comes to the customer on assembly lines.

One of the shots shows a blond teenager licking the open lid of a soy bottle and the rim of a teacup before returning them to the assembly line. Shot at a branch of leading sushi chain "Sushiro" in downtown Gifu, the video was first shared on an Instagram story before spreading online at breakneck speed and eventually making national and international news. The clip now has over 40 million clicks.

Similar videos appeared a little later, some with older time stamps. But the scenes are at least as repulsive. A man who puts his finger in his mouth and then touches two pieces of fish that are passing by. A customer secretly spreading wasabi on someone else's sushi. People licking the spoon of a shared container full of green tea powder. On the other hand, the recordings in which guests steal other customers' food from the assembly line seem almost harmless.

The images have sparked an outcry in Japan, which is known for its high standards of cleanliness. The entire sushi industry is worth an estimated 740 billion yen (about $5.7 billion), according to the Guardian. After the blonde boy's video was released, Sushiro's parent company's stock plummeted nearly 5 percent. The operators of the bars have been alerted and have called the police. "As a company, we will respond decisively in both criminal and civil matters," the BBC quoted the sushi chain as saying. The blonde teenager has since apologized, but according to media reports, "Sushiro" filed a formal police complaint.

Two other chains, "Hama Sushi" and "Kura Sushi", have also announced that they will take legal action. According to the "Japan Times", the former filed a damage report with the police because of a video that had been circulated in early January. The actions depicted in the videos "may amount to fraudulent business obstruction," Hiroaki Aratake, an attorney specializing in hospitality law, told the newspaper. "Kura Sushi" plans to install cameras above the conveyor belts for better monitoring of customers. The incidents have also sparked a debate about whether "trust-based businesses" like assembly-line restaurants can still exist "in a frayed society," reports the Japan Times.

Conveyor belt sushi restaurants have been a staple of Japanese cuisine for decades. The restaurants affected are receiving a lot of support and encouragement. Numerous people have online, including with the hashtag

The phenomenon itself is not new. It is just a "branch" of "Baito Tero", "part-time job terrorism", writes the "Japan Times". This term refers to individuals who commonly engage in rude behavior in restaurants and convenience stores and have been stirring up public anger for years. With the ubiquity of smartphones and apps geared toward short attention spans, such "absurd and disruptive content" is steadily increasing. The "Sushi Terror" joins a wave of silliness staged for the attention of TikTok users, the article surmises. As long as attention "is the main currency of the internet," the various forms of "tero" will remain trendy, the Japan Times predicts.

Quellen:BBC, "Japan Times" (I), "Japan Times" (II), "The Guardian"