Tokyo Metro Co. has started removing an advertisement for an anti-vaccine book claiming that face masks are not effective in preventing novel coronavirus infections, company officials said Friday.
The subway operator is asking passengers to wear masks inside cars amid the COVID-19 crisis and the ad could mislead them, officials said.
Tokyo Metro has received complaints that the book’s claims contradict the company’s mask request, the officials added.
It is unusual for a public transportation service operator to remove an ad from its train cars due to its content.
The book, written by physician Satoru Utsumi, claims that coronavirus vaccines are dangerous.
In the preface, Utsumi said the book explains why there is no need to be afraid of the coronavirus, why polymerase chain reaction tests cannot be trusted and why coronavirus vaccines are dangerous.
The book drew massive orders even before its June 10 launch, and 130,000 copies have been printed, according to its publisher, Yusabul.
Tokyo Metro had started putting up the ad in train cars by Sunday after an in-house review. It later learned that the book denies the effectiveness of face masks in preventing the virus, the officials said.
The ad had been placed at a total of 2,000 locations above train car doors, including on the Hibiya and Fukutoshin lines.
The publisher said it was told that that there had been complaints about the book’s claims about masks.
Utsumi has published many books, including one whose title says vaccines are unnecessary. His YouTube channel has over 90,000 subscribers.
He also had more than 90,000 followers on Twitter, but his account was frozen last month after some of his posts were labeled misleading. He had said on Twitter that vaccines drastically increase infertility risk and that no antidote works.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.