Restaurant's $480K Suit Goes After Teen for 'Sushi Terrorism'

Japan's Sushiro chain says high schooler licked sushi, claims customers fled after viral video
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2023 10:20 AM CDT
Suit: Teen Licked Our Sushi. And the Soy Sauce Bottle
Stock photo of (hopefully) unlicked sushi and soy sauce.   (Getty Images/Ilya_Starikov)

A high schooler in Japan has been hit with a nearly half-million-dollar lawsuit, after a sushi eatery says viral footage of his antics caused a huge customer dip. Broadcaster NHK reports that Akindo Sushiro Co., parent company of the Sushiro chain, is suing the teen for $480,000, accusing him of what's been deemed a form of "sushi terrorism" in Japan, per CNN. Video shot Jan. 3 shows the student licking his finger, then touching a plate filled with sushi as it went by him on one of the conveyor belts at a Sushiro location in the Gifu prefecture, per the Japan Times.

The 45-second footage also shows the teen licking a soy sauce bottle and a cup, which he then put back where another customer might grab it. The video was uploaded soon after the incident and went viral, leading to a substantial drop in customers and in the company's stock price, per the complaint; Akindo Sushiro says it lost about $115 million in total. The firm has also started installing plastic shields over the food at its 600 or so outlets, which it says will cost it nearly $650,000.

In May, the student's lawyers asked for the case to be dismissed, arguing that even though the teen admitted his actions (and felt regret for them), there was no proof that what he'd done was the reason Sushiro was hemorrhaging customers. Instead, they say, there's simply hefty competition in the sushi restaurant industry that caused patrons to go elsewhere. They also insist that the video, which the Guardian notes was filmed by a second person, wasn't meant to go viral, but to be shared among just a few of the teen's friends. (More strange stuff stories.)

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