Self-Centered Assertions Should Not Be Accepted

The legislature’s authority will be lost if it takes lightly a situation in which a lawmaker continues to be absent from the Diet without a justifiable reason. The House of Councillors needs to deal with the situation in a strict manner in accordance with procedures.

The upper house’s Discipline Committee is considering action against GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani of the NHK Party. It will reportedly come to a conclusion as early as this month.

GaaSyy has remained overseas since being elected in the upper house poll last year. Upper house President Hidehisa Otsuji has issued a formal summons for him to attend the Diet, but he has not responded.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to discuss domestic and foreign matters at the Diet and participate in the voting on budget plans and other bills and proposals. His abandonment of these roles cannot be ignored.

GaaSyy submitted a question this month regarding support programs for women. However, this alone cannot be said to be fulfilling the responsibilities of a lawmaker.

GaaSyy’s assertions must be described as too self-centered.

Regarding his being referred to the committee, GaaSyy has said, “People who didn’t vote for me have no business telling me what to do.” Does he understand that the Constitution defines Diet members as “representative of all the people” and entrusts them with governmental affairs?

GaaSyy is under investigation regarding several matters, including the defamation of people, mainly celebrities, on a video-sharing site. He has said, “If I return to Japan, where there are corrupt authorities, I fear that I will be falsely accused” as a reason for not coming back to Japan.

A total of nearly ¥20 million has been paid to GaaSyy as salaries, bonuses and other compensation since his election to the Diet. There is no way he can gain the public’s understanding for receiving such a large amount of public money while continuing to stay out of the country to evade investigations.

Possible disciplinary actions include, in descending order of severity, expulsion, suspension of attendance to the Diet, requiring an apology and admonition. The ruling and opposition parties are reportedly considering demanding that GaaSyy apologize at an upper house plenary session, and expelling him if he does not do so.

Some members of the ruling and opposition blocs have said that GaaSyy should decide whether to resign or not by himself, without waiting for the committee’s verdict. He is clearly not trying to fulfill his duties as a lawmaker, and therefore it is only natural that some are voicing such opinions.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) are said to be considering establishing legislation that will allow the suspension of salaries for lawmakers who do not attend the Diet without a proper reason.

NHK Party leader Takashi Tachibana should take seriously the fact that a member of his party is disrupting the legislative body. As the head of the party, it is his fundamental duty to persuade GaaSyy to return to Japan as soon as possible to fulfill his responsibilities as a lawmaker.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 12, 2023)