Unprecedented Behavior Brought Disgrace to House of Councillors

This is the first time in 72 years that a member of the Diet has been stripped of his position via expulsion. His expulsion is quite natural because he has betrayed the expectations of voters and failed to fulfill his responsibilities as a Diet member.

It was decided to expel from the House of Councillors GaaSyy, an upper house lawmaker whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, as he has been absent from every Diet session since being elected last year. When a vote was held in a plenary session of the upper house, the solitary vote against expelling him came from a member of his own Seijika Joshi 48 Party (the former NHK Party).

The position of an elected Diet member entails heavy responsibility, and caution must be exercised in depriving a member of that status. For this reason, the Constitution states that a two-thirds majority of members present is necessary to expel a Diet member.

For the overwhelming majority to judge GaaSyy unfit to serve as a Diet member is a grave state of affairs. There is no denying that GaaSyy has stained the history of the upper house with disgrace.

The upper house has repeatedly asked GaaSyy, who has remained abroad, to attend the current Diet session. As a reason for not returning to Japan, GaaSyy has cited “fear of being wrongfully detained.” This is because he is under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department for allegedly making threatening and calumnious remarks about celebrities and others.

Since last year’s upper house election, GaaSyy has been paid a total of ¥20 million in salary and bonuses. It is unacceptable that he should be allowed to receive such a huge amount of public funds while absent from Diet sessions for selfish reasons.

Regarding his expulsion, the former NHK Party claims that the upper house should apologize to the voters who cast their votes for GaaSyy, and that a legislature in which a minority group is subjected to bullying is no good.

GaaSyy was expelled only because he has abandoned his duties as a Diet member who participates in deliberations and votes in Diet sessions. It is GaaSyy himself who should apologize to the voters. The party’s attitude of disregarding the fault of its own member and putting the blame on the upper house is completely out of line.

GaaSyy, who is known for dishing out celebrity gossip on his YouTube channel, was elected with about 288,000 votes by claiming that he would “wake up lawmakers who are asleep” during sessions. He is believed to have gained the support of young people who are dissatisfied with the current political situation.

The ruling and opposition parties have a history of fielding celebrities and personalities under the past national district system in upper house elections. In the current proportional representation section, in which voters are allowed to cast a vote with a party name or an individual candidate’s name, it has been noted that name recognition goes a long way.

With the spread of social media, it is possible that an increasing number of political parties and candidates will try to gain attention and votes through radical behavior. Voters will have to seriously judge party promises and candidates’ characters.

It is impossible to say that a situation undermining the authority of the Diet will not occur again. It would be advisable for the ruling and opposition parties to consider cutting the salaries of Diet members who are absent without a valid reason before the Diet imposes punishment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 16, 2023)