Man Pleads Not Guilty over Mask-Related Trouble Aboard Flight

Society

Osaka, May 17 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese man pleaded not guilty Tuesday over trouble stemming from his refusal to wear a face mask aboard a Peach Aviation flight as a measure to prevent novel coronavirus infection, an incident that led the plane to make an unscheduled landing.

In denying the charge of forcible obstruction of business in the first hearing of his trial at Osaka District Court, Junya Okuno, a 35-year-old former university staff worker, said, "I was forced to get off the plane due to a misjudgment" by Peach Aviation, a low-cost carrier under the wing of major Japanese airline group ANA Holdings Inc. <9202>.

According to the indictment, Okuno in September 2020 boarded the plane at Kushiro Airport in Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, without wearing a mask and demanded that flight attendants have a passenger who criticized him for refusing to wear a mask apologize to him.

Due to the trouble, the flight bound for Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, made an emergency landing at Niigata Airport in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, with Okuno alleged to have obstructed Peach Aviation's business.

In their opening statement, public prosecutors argued that Okuno kept shouting without following flight attendants' instructions and that his behavior was therefore judged as disrupting order on the plane.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press