Japan’s legislature may soon expel its first member in over 70 years for not going to work in seven months.
Japanese voters elected GaaSyy, a YouTuber whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, to the upper house of the National Diet, the country’s legislature, last July.
But GaaSyy, who lived in the United Arab Emirates, refused to attend the first legislative session, saying that he feared arrest owing to allegations of fraud. The YouTuber is reportedly suspected to have taken money from people after promising they could meet K-pop band BTS, and Japanese media say he is facing an investigation into defamation and intimidation of celebrities.
Since then, GaaSyy has not attended a single session of the legislature and has remained overseas.
In February, the disciplinary committee for Japan’s upper house ordered GaaSyy to deliver an in-person apology for skipping parliamentary sessions.
GaaSyy originally agreed to fly to Japan and apologize on Wednesday. But on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled apology, the former YouTuber changed his mind, saying he still feared arrest and that it was “too early” for him to return. (Japan’s constitution protects legislators from arrest while the Diet is in session.)
In response, the head of Japan’s upper house said GaaSyy’s situation would be brought back to the disciplinary committee to discuss further sanctions, including expulsion. GaaSyy now risks being the first lawmaker to be expelled from the Diet since 1951, notes Kyodo News.
GaaSyy was elected to Japan’s House of Councillors last July as part of the NHK Party, a party that criticizes the country’s public broadcaster. The NHK Party has two seats, including GaaSyy’s, in the upper house, and is not represented in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the National Diet.
On Wednesday evening, the leader of the NHK Party apologized for GaaSyy’s refusal to return to Japan, and resigned, according to the Japan Times.
GaaSyy came to prominence on YouTube, where he would release videos on celebrity gossip and scandals.
In January, Tokyo police reportedly investigated locations linked to GaaSyy, and asked him to return to Japan for voluntary questioning.
The NHK Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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