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Two members of a rightwing group were sentenced to 16 months in prison Friday for assaulting a magazine editor over an article they considered insulting to the Imperial family.

The Tokyo District Court handed down the sentence to Hidemi Shimamura, 35, and Toshio Kasai, 34, for inflicting bodily injury on Yasunori Okadome, chief editor of the monthly magazine Uwasa no Shinso (Truth of the Rumor).

The prosecution had demanded an 18-month prison term for each defendant.

According to the court, Shimamura and Kasai visited the magazine’s head office in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on the afternoon of June 7 and filed a protest with Okadome, 52, because the magazine did not add an honorific title when addressing the Crown Princess in its June issue.

After demanding that the magazine be closed down, the two started punching Okadome, the court said.

During the attack, the editor was also struck on the head with a glass ashtray.

In handing down the decision, presiding Judge Satoshi Ueda said, “It was a case of suppressing a magazine’s (freedom of) expression by violence.”

The judge said the action taken by the two was “malicious in light of the importance of the freedom of expression, which serves as the basis for democracy.”

The judge also said the two could commit a similar crime again since they “have even testified that they cannot excuse the victim.”

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