The term “Sushi Terrorism” (called “sushi tero” in Japanese) is currently trending in Japan. Videos of people engaging in unruly and sometimes unhygienic acts at conveyor belt sushi restaurants have caused outrage amongst the public and have negatively affected sales at those establishments. In this week’s news roundup, we look at the 48-second clip of a high school student licking utensils at a Sushiro outlet in Gifu that led to the sushi terrorism trend being put under the microscope. The restaurant chain is now taking legal action.  

Also this week, we have the latest on the “Luffy” burglaries as four Japanese suspects await extradition from the Philippines. Problems continue to mount for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as he’s grilled over his son’s activities during official trips to Europe and North America. Sociologist Shinji Miyadai says he has mixed feelings about the death of the lead suspect in his stabbing case. Two skiers sadly die following an avalanche in Nagano. And in sport, Kaoru Mitoma continues to dazzle for Brighton.  

Police to Investigate ‘Sushi Terrorism’ Video

The operator of conveyor belt sushi chain Sushiro announced on Wednesday that it had filed a reputational damage report against a customer to the police after a video showed the person in question licking the open top of a soy sauce bottle. He then put the rim of an unused teacup in his mouth. It finished with the high school student licking his finger, which he subsequently used to touch some sushi. The clip was reportedly seen more than 22 million times on Instagram before being taken down.

The 17-year-old boy, a second-year student at Ginan Technical High School in Gifu Prefecture, apologized in person with his guardian. This, though, wasn’t enough to stop the restaurant chain’s parent firm from pursuing both criminal and civil cases. Earlier in January, a customer at the chain Hamazushi dropped wasabi on some sushi as it passed by their table. The company is considering filing a civil suit against the individual. Other recent examples of sushi terrorism include people pilfering other customers’ orders and patrons touching dishes on the conveyer belt.  

Japanese Suspects in the Philippines Await Extradition

Four Japanese nationals, suspected of being behind a string of robberies in this country, are currently being held at an immigration facility in the Philippines. Tokyo is seeking the transfer of Yuki Watanabe, 38, Tomonobu Kojima, 45, Toshiya Fujita, 38, and Kiyoto Imamura, 38, after police here obtained arrest warrants related to fraud scams, mainly perpetrated against elderly people in Japan. The problem is, however, that they also have criminal lawsuits filed against them in the Philippines. The lawsuit against one suspect has been dropped, but the other three can’t be deported until their cases are dismissed.  

Court cases for two of the men were held on Thursday. A lawyer said more hearings will take place next Tuesday. According to Secretary of Justice of the Philippines Jesus Crispin Remulla, there’s a possibility the suspects could be extradited at different times. It’s believed the group of four remotely coordinated a spate of robberies in Japan using an encrypted messaging app. One, some or maybe all of them used the aliases “Luffy” and “Kim” to direct orders. The issue won’t affect the visit of Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to Japan next week.

Kishida Defends Son’s Excursions During Official Trip

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faced a grilling from the opposition bloc on Tuesday regarding his eldest son’s activities during recent state visits to Europe and North America. Shotaro, 32, accompanied his father on his tour of five G7 nations in January as the PM’s executive secretary. However, according to Shukan Shincho, he used his time there to do some sightseeing that was paid for by taxpayers. The weekly magazine claimed he used an official vehicle owned by the Foreign Ministry for his trips.

One of the places Shotaro visited was Harrods in London, where he bought souvenirs for members of his father’s Cabinet. The gifts are believed to be luxury neckties. Yuichi Goto, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, quizzed the PM about the purchases. “Is it an official duty of the prime minister’s secretary to buy private souvenirs?” he asked. Kishida responded by saying that it “could be included among the duties for secretaries of the PM.” Kishida appointed Shotaro as his executive secretary last October, leading to claims of nepotism. 

Lead Suspect in Miyadai Stabbing Kills Himself

The lead suspect in the attack on sociologist and university professor Shinji Miyadai is dead, investigators revealed on Wednesday. They have not, at the time of writing, disclosed the person’s identity, but did comment he was a 41-year-old male who had been living with his parents in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. He is believed to have taken his own life on December 16, just over two weeks after the attack on Miyadai. His mother reportedly found him hanging the following day.

A note was left which included an apology to family and friends for causing them difficulties. There was no mention, however, of the attack on Miyadai. The renowned academic was caught from behind and then stabbed several times outside Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Minami-Osawa campus, where he worked, on November 29. On Wednesday, he expressed his relief that people close to him were no longer at risk. At the same time, he admitted that the unanswered questions left him with an “unsatisfied feeling.”  

Former World Champion Skier and Austrian Man Die Following Avalanche in Nagano

The police confirmed on Monday that two men died following an avalanche in Japan’s central region of Nagano. One of the fatalities was American Kyle Smaine, 31, a professional freeskier and 2015 halfpipe world champion. The second victim was 30-year-old Christoph Schöfegger of Austria. He had been skiing in a separate group of three. Avalanches in Japanese mountains killed six skiers in January, says NHK. Their deaths have further highlighted the risks of backcountry skiing, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.

According to Mountain Gazette, Smaine was in Japan on a media trip sponsored by Ikon Pass and Nagano Tourism. Tributes on social media came pouring in for the former world champion, including an emotional tribute from Jenna Dramise, his longtime partner whom he married in November 2022. She concluded her Instagram message with the words, “Tonight I hope to ride some pow or bikes with you in my dreams. Love your Wife.” The avalanche struck in the backcountry near the Tsugaike Mountain Resort on Sunday afternoon. 

Mitoma Sparkles Again for Brighton

Kaoru Mitoma continued to enhance his reputation with a magnificent display on Sunday. The 25-year-old gave the Liverpool full-backs a torrid time before scoring a delightful injury-time winner, booking Brighton’s place in Round Five of the FA Cup. Also impressing on the weekend was Yuki Soma. He scored one and made another in Casa Pia’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara in Portugal. In Belgium, there were goals for Daichi Hayashi (Sint-Truiden) and Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge) while Hayao Kawabe netted for Swiss side Grasshopper Club Zürich in a 1-1 draw with FC Lugano.  

During the week, Kawabe’s teammate Ayumu Seko bagged a brace in the side’s 5-3 loss to Basel. Hidemasa Morita also scored two as Sporting CP thrashed Braga 5-0 while Ado Onaiwu netted for Toulouse in their 4-1 win over Troyes. In Scotland, Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi were both on target as Celtic beat Livingston 3-0. Players moving clubs this week included Genki Haraguchi (VfB Stuttgart), Yusuke Matsuo (K.V.C. Westerlo) and Shinji Kagawa, who returned to Cerezo Osaka. Kazuyoshi Miura, meanwhile, joined Portuguese second division side Oliveirense on loan. He turns the ripe old age of 56 this month.