Millions in acrylic for a cruel lick.

At the beginning of this year, the nation was rocked when a boy licked the soy sauce dispenser, a cup intended for another customer, and his finger before wiping it on pieces of sushi that floated by on the conveyor belt of major chain Sushiro.

▼ A news report from last January when the incident occurred

This isn’t the worst crime in the grand scheme of things nor was this teen the first or last person to have been caught doing such a thing. But perhaps because it hit just as the country was emerging from years of COVID-related restrictions the feelings of disgust that the video evoked were in full effect.

Speaking of which, the communal nature of revolving sushi restaurants meant their income was also suffering from the pandemic, and to have this take place just as things were improving had devastating potential. Since then, Sushiro and their competitors have all been racing to take measures to assure the public it was safe to eat there.

As news of this “sushi terrorism” traveled around the globe, so too did news of the lawsuit filed against the boy for 67 million yen (US$472,000) in damages. It’s important to note that, unlike courts in some other countries, Japan for the most part does not award punitive damages that go beyond the actual loss of property or business.

▼ The full amount would be equal to about 67,000 meals at Sushiro

This means that every yen of that 67 million demanded by Sushiro is tied into some financial loss that they’ve incurred and feel they can prove in court. At the time of the incident, the stock price of Sushiro’s parent company took a dive by about 16.8 billion yen ($118 million) and the blowback on social media strongly suggested that a lot of people would stop going there, resulting in a subsequent loss of sales.

However, in court, it will be hard to prove that those things were a direct result of the sushi terrorist’s actions alone. Sushiro is more likely to bring up the costs to replace all the cups and soy sauce dispensers in that one store at least, as well as the added labor costs of shutting down the revolving conveyor belt nationwide and accommodating customers’ understandable requests to get tableware from the back that they know is clean.

▼ A few months before the licking incident, Sushiro turned people off after they advertised cheap beer too early and confused customers who had to pay full price.

These costs are also ongoing too. Sushiro is currently working on installing acrylic dividers between tables in all of their 600-plus restaurants across the country. They’re currently estimating the cost of these and other hygiene improvement efforts to be an additional 93 million yen ($650,000), which would put the youngster on the hook for about 160 million yen ($1.1 million) in total.

The outcome of this lawsuit remains to be seen, but a majority of online comments appear to be in support of hitting the sushi terrorist hard.

“He’s young, so I guess he’ll have a lot of time to pay it back.”
“The Summer Jumbo Lottery jackpot is up to 100,000 yen. That might help.”
“What kind of interest would he have to pay on that?”
“I bet he really feels sorry now.”
“Good for them. Stomp this behavior out to the point it doesn’t exist.”
“With this plus the stuff from COVID-19, that restaurant’s going to be wall-to-wall acrylic.”
“He needs to be made an example of so this doesn’t happen again.”
“They won’t get the money to pay for the acrylic from the kid anyway. It will just make the prices go up.”

Regardless of whether the awarded amount is 67 million or 160 million yen, it would certainly appear that the teenager is totally unable to pay it. In all likelihood this may be settled out of court with the boy receiving a more practical punishment and Sushiro will have sent a clear message to the world about the kind of financial pain they or other restaurants in Japan could potentially dish out in response to sushi terrorism.

Source: The Sankei News, News Post Seven, Gentosha Gold Online, Itai News
Photos ©SoraNews24
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