• Politics & Government

Maverick Diet newcomer a no-show at 1st session

The Yomiuri Shimibun
The name post for the absent Gaasyy remains down during the extraordinary session of the House of Councillors on Wednesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Newly elected House of Councillors lawmaker Gaasyy failed to attend an extraordinary session of the Diet despite the obligation of parliamentary members to be present.

Gaasyy, who is said to be staying in the United Arab Emirates, was absent from the Diet session convened Wednesday for the three-day session, claiming that he may be falsely arrested by police if he returns to Japan.

The Upper House had rejected his application for permission to travel overseas, saying that the written request did not say when he would return to Japan.

Gaasyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, garnered 280,000 votes to win a proportional representation seat in the July 10 Upper House election as a candidate of the NHK Party, a single-issue party critical of public broadcaster NHK.

His absence has drawn criticism.

Ryosuke Nishida, associate professor of sociology at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, said that Gaasyy may be punished if he remains absent from the Diet without a rational reason.

While the heaviest punishment under the Diet law is expulsion, Gaasyy “will unlikely receive the punishment by missing just one session, given the importance of the status of a lawmaker who has obtained a mandate through an election.”

But, Nishida added, it can hardly be said that Gaasyy has a rational reason for the absence, and he probably will not be allowed to continue staying abroad forever.

Mindful that Gaasyy became popular by exposing celebrity scandals on his YouTube channels, Nishida said, “If he is expelled, that would give him another selling point for his activities.”

Those who voted for Gaasyy must include voters hoping that he would “expose the darkness of lawmakers to the light,” said cartoonist Nameko Shinsan.

“If he won’t show up at the Diet, he will fall short of those expectations,” she said.

Noting that Gaasyy’s Twitter account has been suspended and that his YouTube videos have been deleted, she said, “Gaasyy is losing places to make presentations, but if he returns to Japan, he will be able to say whatever he wants at the Diet.

“He must appear at the Diet with courage,” she said, adding that she is not sure whether Gaasyy would be really arrested if he returns to Japan.