KUMAMOTO (TR) – A man was arrested for falsely tweeting that a lion was loose after an earthquake jolted the prefecture here in April, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Wednesday (July 20).
Kumamoto Prefectural Police arrested Kazuki Sato, 20, an electrical worker of Kanagawa Prefecture, for fraudulently interfering with the duties of zoo workers by falsely tweeting that a lion was on the loose in the immediate aftermath of the first of two quakes to strike Kumamoto that month.
Sato admitted to the charges, telling police he “wanted to shock people” who saw the tweet which was retweeted at least 20,000 times in an hour.
Police said Sato’s arrest was the first time the fraudulent interference charge was used to arrest a suspect who capitalized on a disaster to spread false information online.
On April 14 at around 9:50 p.m., 25 minutes after a foreshock measuring 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale occurred, Sato paired an image he pulled off the web of a lion walking around a city with his tweet which read: “Kumamoto, there’s a lion on the loose near my house because of the earthquake.”
The fake tweet forced staff at the Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens to deal with over 100 phone calls.