Photo/Illutration The building housing the Osaka District Court and Osaka High Court (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

OSAKA--A man who kicked up a fuss on a domestic flight after he was asked to wear a face mask, causing the pilot to make an unscheduled landing, was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for four years, on Dec. 14.

In its ruling, the Osaka District Court said Junya Okuno, 36, a former university official who resides in Toride, Ibaraki Prefecture, forcibly obstructed Peach Aviation Ltd.’s business after he refused to wear a mask, causing a commotion that diverted the flight.

Okuno boarded a Peach Aviation flight bound for Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture at Kushiro Airport in Hokkaido in September 2020.

The ruling found that he argued with other passengers on the plane who he complained had insulted him for not wearing a face mask. At one point, he twisted the arm of a crew member who asked him to calm down.

His behavior prompted the emergency landing, the ruling said.

Okuno’s lawyer asserted his client was innocent on grounds he suffers from chronic asthma, which causes breathing difficulties that can be exacerbated by wearing a face mask.

Presiding Judge Jun Oyori rejected that line of argument, saying Okuno clearly felt he was entitled to stick to his beliefs, no matter what.

Oyori concluded that a suspended sentence would be appropriate as Okuno’s assault was relatively minor and he had no prior criminal record.

In April 2021, Okuno got involved in an altercation with a customer after refusing to wear a mask at a restaurant in Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture. He struck a police officer who arrived after an emergency call from the restaurant, obstructing the officer in the course of performing official duties.