Discipline Panel Starts Talks on Absent Lawmaker GaaSyy

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
GaaSyy’s name plate indicating his absence at the Diet on Wednesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The discipline committee of the House of Councillors on Friday began discussing whether to impose penalties on YouTuber lawmaker GaaSyy for his continued absence from the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

At the day’s meeting of the discipline panel, Upper House President Hidehisa Otsuji explained the reasons for referring GaaSyy, a member of the chamber, to the committee. On Jan. 30, Otsuji issued a letter asking him to appear at the ongoing regular Diet session.

GaaSyy, from the NHK Party, a single-issue party critical of NHK, the public broadcaster officially called Japan Broadcasting Corp., has not attended even a single Diet meeting since he won a parliamentary seat for the first time in the July 2022 Upper House election. He is currently staying in the United Arab Emirates.

The ruling and opposition parties agreed to hold the next meeting of the committee over GaaSyy on Feb. 21, where Upper House steering committee head Junichi Ishii will be asked to speak about details of the situation and GaaSyy himself or his representative will be requested to appear to give explanations.

GaaSyy has requested that he be allowed to speak online, but the executive board of the discipline committee has affirmed a policy of not allowing this as Diet law has no provision for online attendance.

At a press conference Friday, NHK Party leader Takashi Tachibana said that Satoshi Hamada, an Upper House member of the party, will attend the Feb. 21 meeting on behalf of GaaSyy.

After discussions at the discipline committee, a final decision will be made at an Upper House plenary meeting within February.

The law spells out four types of penalty against lawmakers—expulsion, suspension from the Diet, apology in an open Diet meeting and admonition in an open Diet meeting in order of most to least severe.