NAGOYA - A man arrested for allegedly licking a tabletop soy sauce bottle at a conveyer-belt sushi restaurant in Nagoya and then posting a video of the act online was indicted Tuesday on a charge of obstructing a business.
The case of Ryoga Yoshino, 21, is believed to have been the first instance of a customer being arrested for such behavior, following revelations of similar acts at eateries in Japan earlier this year.
Two other people were arrested in connection with the incident at an outlet of Kura Sushi Inc. in the central Japan city on Feb. 3. One was released Tuesday pending further investigation, while the other was put on probation.
Yoshino apparently thought he too should jump on the bandwagon when he engaged in the act as social media got awash with similar prank videos, according to his lawyer Kenichi Tamura.
But as the video went viral and caused a backlash, Yoshino felt "at a loss about what to do" but did not realize he had committed a crime until he was arrested, Tamura said.
The young man recognized the error of his ways during his detention and, if afforded the chance, hopes to apologize to the sushi restaurant chain operator, the lawyer said.
Kura Sushi said it has nothing new to say about the incident before adding, "We sincerely hope the public has come to know that these acts of public nuisance would constitute a crime and no such acts would be committed in the future."
After the industry was shaken by a string of incidents involving customers licking tabletop condiments and engaging in other unhygienic behavior, the sushi restaurant chain operator installed camera systems equipped with artificial intelligence on the conveyor belts at its restaurants.