GaaSyy’s Flagrant Absence Makes Upper House Expulsion Inevitable

Have the responsibilities of a Diet member ever been so utterly disregarded? As long as a lawmaker continues to be absent from Diet sessions — and moreover ignores a House of Councillors resolution that he apologize in the Diet — his expulsion from the legislature is inevitable.

NHK Party member and upper house lawmaker GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, has never appeared at the Diet since he was elected in July last year. He did not even attend the plenary session of the upper house in which he was scheduled to make his apology.

The disciplinary measure of requiring GaaSyy to apologize in the Diet was decided by a majority vote of the ruling and opposition parties last month. In response, GaaSyy informed the upper house in writing that he would “attend the plenary session and read out my apology.” At the last minute, however, he was absent from the plenary session, claiming that it was “too early” for him to attend. This is nothing less than a mockery of the Diet.

Hidehisa Otsuji, the president of the upper house, said at the plenary session that GaaSyy had “disturbed the order in the house,” referring the matter again to the upper house Discipline Committee for review.

The ruling and opposition parties said they are making arrangements to expel GaaSyy from the upper house as early as mid-March. If the expulsion is voted on, he will lose his status as a Diet member.

The position of an elected Diet member entails heavy responsibility. It has been said that if there is a problem with a member’s qualifications or activities, the voters should render a verdict at the ballot box as to whether the member should stay or go.

However, it is obvious that GaaSyy is undermining the significance of the seats of all Diet members. The Constitution stipulates that each house may punish “members for disorderly conduct” in the houses, including by expulsion from the Diet. It is not surprising for the upper house to consider expelling GaaSyy.

GaaSyy is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department after being accused of slandering celebrities and others on a video-sharing website. He had been in the United Arab Emirates, claiming that he would be “wrongfully detained” if he returned to Japan.

After his disciplinary action was decided, GaaSyy made a sudden visit to Turkey, which was devastated by a major earthquake. He said he will continue his support activities there for the time being.

It is clear that his stay in Turkey in the name of providing support is nothing more than an excuse for not returning to Japan. The selfishness of his behavior is inexpressibly appalling.

GaaSyy has also stated on social media that he “will definitely return to Japan.” Considering that he has often changed his own statements in the past, he cannot be trusted. A shameful situation must be avoided in which the Diet is always swayed by each remark GaaSyy makes.

When he was criticized for receiving public funds, including a salary and bonuses, even though he was not engaging in any Diet activities, GaaSyy began to say that he would hand the entire amount over to his NHK Party. Unless he fulfills his duties as a Diet member by participating in deliberations and voting, voters will not accept his behavior.

NHK Party leader Takashi Tachibana announced his intention to step down from his post to take responsibility for GaaSyy’s failure to make his apology at the Diet. Tachibana also said he will change the party’s name. His moves can only be seen as a change of subject to evade criticism.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 9, 2023)