• Yomiuri Editorial
  • Absent Diet Member

Will GaaSyy Continue to Betray Hopes of Those Who Elected Him?

If a lawmaker continues to be absent from all Diet sessions and shows disrespect for the legislature, it is no surprise for them to face disciplinary action. The NHK Party and GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, a member of the House of Councillors, must take the discipline seriously.

A plenary session of the upper house passed a disciplinary motion calling for GaaSyy to “apologize in the Diet.” GaaSyy, who won an upper house seat in last year’s election, has never appeared at the Diet.

During the current Diet session, Hidehisa Otsuji, the president of the upper house, issued a letter summoning GaaSyy to attend the Diet session. As he did not respond, the upper house Discipline Committee voted to discipline him. It can be said that the upper house has followed necessary procedures carefully.

GaaSyy had said that the reason for his absence was that he would be wrongfully arrested and that he had a meeting with foreign dignitaries. At the plenary session where his disciplinary action was decided on, another upper house member from the NHK Party defended GaaSyy, saying that the risk of his wrongful detention could not be ruled out.

The NHK Party’s self-centered argument cannot be tolerated. In a sign of the matter’s seriousness, GaaSyy’s disciplinary action has been agreed upon by the opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party, in addition to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito.

GaaSyy has asked to be allowed to participate in Diet debates online.

The Constitution requires the attendance of at least one-third of all members for a plenary session. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ruling and opposition parties considered whether to hold an online Diet session, but no conclusion has been reached.

The fact that online deliberations have yet to be realized is no reason for GaaSyy to refuse to appear at the Diet. So it is reasonable for him to attend Diet sessions.

GaaSyy, who is known for dishing out celebrity gossip on his YouTube channel, won nearly 290,000 votes in the proportional representation section in the upper house election last year.

People who voted for him may have been hoping that his maverick behavior would change the old-fashioned politics and bring new life into it.

It can be said that GaaSyy’s current status — continued absence from Diet sessions even while receiving an annual salary and bonuses — is a betrayal of the voters who held expectations of him.

The ruling and opposition parties are considering expelling GaaSyy from the chamber as early as early March unless he responds to the demand for an apology. In the past, only one member of the House of Representatives and one member of the upper house have been expelled.

Takashi Tachibana, the leader of the NHK Party, which has tolerated GaaSyy’s absence so far, told reporters, “The probability that he will come before he is expelled is high,” suggesting that he could appear at the Diet soon. Has GaaSyy finally come to feel a sense of urgency due to the tough stance of the ruling and opposition parties?

As a representative of the public, a Diet member has the responsibility to debate various issues in the Diet and participate in voting on bills and budget proposals. Tachibana needs to persuade GaaSyy to show up and do his job.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 23, 2023)