A 20-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture has been arrested for posting a picture of a lion on Twitter and claiming it was on the loose in Kumamoto.

A young man who posted a picture of a lion walking through the streets soon after the devastating earthquake in Kumamoto on April 14 has been arrested for publishing false information.

The picture was posted with the title “The earthquake caused a lion to escape from the zoo near my house in Kumomoto”. NHK has reported that this is the first time someone has been arrested for the “obstruction of business from spreading false rumors” – the affected business being the Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens.


However, it appears that the picture was taken from a movie scene shot in South Africa as seen in this Daily Mail article.

The tweet attracted over 17,000 retweets and the Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens received over 100 phone calls about the supposed lion escape.

The police said that the young man posted the image as a “bad joke”, according to NHK news. This arrest is unprecedented and is a stark warning to anyone thinking of posting false rumors online.

Japan isn’t really fond of satire, although this couldn’t really be quite classified as a satirical joke. It appears as if this was posted to be intentionally deceptive. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact this arrest will have on publications, such as satirical websites.

Source: Huffington Post Japan, NHK News, Daily Mail
Featured image: Twitter/@netgeek_0915