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Unruly anti-mask passengers disrupt Japanese airlines

Voluntary measures leave carriers in bind, leading to calls to make them mandatory

As Japan started a four-day holiday weekend on Saturday, passengers wearing masks checked in at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Disgruntled passengers caused major delays on two recent domestic flights from Hokkaido over requests to wear face masks, underscoring the limits faced by Japanese carriers relying on voluntary measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.

A Peach Aviation flight scheduled to depart Kushiro for Osaka's Kansai International Airport on Sept. 7 was delayed when a male passenger refused to wear a mask, demanding that the matter be put in writing. The passenger continued to shout objections after the flight took off, leading the pilot to divert the plane to Niigata Airport to remove the man. The flight reached Osaka more than two hours late.

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