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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 COVID-19 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..

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