YouTuber-turned-Lawmaker Expelled from Japanese Upper House for Continuous Absence

Yoshikazu Higashitani, a YouTu­ber-turned-law­mak­er, has been expelled from Japan’s upper house for his con­tin­u­ous absence from par­lia­men­tary ses­sions since being elect­ed last year. Higashitani, who also goes by GaaSyy on his pop­u­lar YouTube account (which has since been sus­pend­ed), lost his seat after fail­ing to appear in the House of Coun­cilors while resid­ing abroad, anger­ing his colleagues.

The 51-year-old received almost 300,000 votes last July as a mem­ber of a sin­gle-issue par­ty advo­cat­ing reforms to NHK, the Japan­ese pub­lic broad­cast­er. How­ev­er, he had been liv­ing in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates even before the elec­tion and has not returned to Japan since, cit­ing con­cerns he might be detained by police inves­ti­gat­ing defama­tion com­plaints stem­ming from the celebri­ty gos­sip that pro­pelled him to YouTube stardom.

Last week, GaaSyy said on Insta­gram that he was in Gaziantep, Turkey, to help with earth­quake relief and that it was too ear­ly for him to return to Japan. He is cur­rent­ly believed to be back in the U.A.E. city of Dubai.

GaaSyy is the first Japan­ese law­mak­er to be expelled from the leg­is­la­ture in over 70 years and the first to be expelled over an extend­ed peri­od of absence. How­ev­er, the deci­sion does not bar him from run­ning for office again. The vote was 235 to 1, with the only oppo­si­tion com­ing from his sole fel­low par­ty mem­ber in the cham­ber, Satoshi Hama­da, who had hoped GaaSyy could con­tin­ue to serve as a mem­ber of parliament.

Law­mak­ers from oth­er par­ties said it was an easy deci­sion, with Hiroshige Seko, a mem­ber of the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, stat­ing that despite being giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to apol­o­gize on the floor of the Diet, GaaSyy nev­er respond­ed to it and con­tin­ued to ignore the opportunity.

Jeff Kingston, direc­tor of Asian stud­ies at Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty Japan in Tokyo, said the deci­sion made sense from the point of view of tax­pay­ers, who have paid GaaSyy an esti­mat­ed $149,000 since his elec­tion. He added that GaaSyy’s expul­sion was not sur­pris­ing, as he nev­er attend­ed Diet ses­sions and did­n’t rep­re­sent the dis­il­lu­sioned vot­ers who sup­port­ed him.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.