A Tokyo court has given a guilty verdict to five members of a group claiming to be the Japanese arm of U.S. conspiracy cult QAnon, for forcing their way into local coronavirus vaccination sites earlier this year.
On Thursday, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Hiroyuki Kuraoka, 44, a member of YamatoQ — a group that strongly opposes COVID-19 vaccinations — to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years. Two other members of the group were given one-year sentences and the other two were sentenced to 10 months, all with three-year suspensions.
Presiding Judge Kiichi Hiraide recognized Kuraoka as having played a leading role in the incident and being the most responsible of those involved.
The acts were "premeditated and greatly disturbed the peace at the vaccination sites. They cannot escape severe blame as they committed the crime to force their opinions on others," the judge said.
According to the ruling, Kuraoka and other members of the group barged into vaccination venues in the capital's Shinjuku Ward and other areas earlier this year.
The group has been waging a campaign against COVID-19 inoculations, denying the existence of the coronavirus and claiming that the shots are dangerous.
YamatoQ is an incorporated association that claims its business is to improve children's health and education as well as contribute to society.
Its website states that it is the Japanese wing of QAnon, a movement spreading conspiracy theories in support of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
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