A Japanese YouTuber’s eight-month political career came crashing down on Tuesday when his colleagues voted to sack him for never once showing up to work.
Yoshikazu Higashitani—also known by his social media pseudonym GaaSyy—was elected as a member of Japan’s upper house of parliament in July, but has not attended a single day of parliamentary sessions.
His YouTube channel, on which he published celebrity gossip content, was reportedly shut down in July, but he still has more than 200,000 TikTok followers and 316,000 on Instagram.
The Japanese parliament’s discipline committee, made up of 10 of Higashitani’s Senate coworkers, decided on Tuesday to expel him from parliament due to his persistent absenteeism.
Higashitani—who has been given the nickname “No-Show MP”—failed to comply with demands from parliament last week that he fly to Tokyo to apologize for his absences.
Instead, he announced on social media that he was in Turkey and would not return as he wanted to support earthquake relief efforts.
Muneo Suzuki, head of the parliamentary disciplinary committee, said in a blog post on Tuesday that committee members had voted unanimously for Higashitani’s expulsion.
“GaaSyy doesn’t understand the foundations of democracy, which is based on laws and rules,” he said in a separate statement published by the Japan Times.
The committee’s decision to strip Higashitani of his status as an MP—the most severe penalty Japanese lawmakers can face—is set to be formalized in parliament within the coming days.
Higashitani’s expulsion marks the first time a politician has been kicked out over absence from work and the first expulsion from parliament in 72 years, according to Jiji Press.
According to the Japan Times, Higashitani is believed to be in the Middle East and has claimed that he cannot return to Japan as he fears being arrested.
He is currently under investigation by Tokyo police for allegedly intimidating and defaming celebrities in videos posted to his social media accounts, local media reports.
Under Japanese law, elected politicians are immune from arrest during parliamentary sessions—but once Higashitani officially loses his seat, he will be stripped of that exemption.
Higashitani is one of two lawmakers elected from the Seijika-joshi-48 party. If he is officially expelled this week, his seat will be filled by another candidate from the party, according to the Japan Times.
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