Japanese YouTuber GaaSyy expelled from parliament


Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday voted to expel a colleague for failing to show up for work even once.

Yoshikazu Higashitani, better known as YouTuber GaaSyy, was elected to Japan’s upper house in July and hasn’t set foot in parliament – or the country – since.

The 51-year-old has made a name for himself exposing alleged celebrity scandals on YouTube, amassing over 1.2 million subscribers. This sequel helped him win 287,000 votes and a seat in the House of Councilors for a populist party that opposes license fee funding of public broadcaster NHK.

It also brought him to the attention of local police, who began investigating complaints from celebrities that he defamed and bullied them in his videos. Tokyo police searched several locations linked to him in January, according to Japanese media. His YouTube account was suspended this summer.

GaaSyy launched his election campaign from overseas, saying he was afraid of being arrested by the police if he returned to Japan. On March 7, he announced on Instagram that he was in Turkey to support earthquake relief efforts and would not be returning to apologize to parliament for his absence, as he had previously promised. .

His ousting from parliament was approved by a 235-1 vote on Wednesday. It was the first expulsion from Japan’s parliament in 72 years, and the first time a lawmaker has been expelled for prolonged absence in a country where the culture of work requires regular meetings. and employees are judged on their hours of work.

GaaSyy received approximately $149,000, which is his entire salary and bonuses calculated from his election to the time of his removal.

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Experts say GaaSyy appealed to some voters because he was a political underdog – an anti-hero who railed against Japan’s tightly controlled entertainment industry. Prior to his YouTube career and brief foray into politics, he lived a flamboyant lifestyle, mingling with many celebrities whom he later gossiped about in his videos. On social networks before his election, some had expressed i hope he can bring about changes in the Japanese political system, which is party-dominated, and reveal all political secrets.

Populist parties have not gained as much of a foothold in Japan as in other industrialized democracies in recent years.

Jeffrey J. Hall, a political expert at Kanda University of International Studies, said partnering with GaaSyy helped the NHK party achieve a large enough share of the national vote to qualify for a seat in parliament.

“Over a million people voted for this party in the last election,” he said in an email. “It is significant that so many people can be mobilized around a fringe party that primarily spreads its message through YouTube and other social media.”

He noted that the expulsion of GaaSyy does not prevent him from participating in future elections. Many of those who voted for GaaSyy see him as a truth-teller targeted by the Japanese establishment, and “probably don’t care” about his absences, Hall said. “They don’t expect their politicians to sit in (parliamentary) sessions and do the same things as normal politicians.”

Dozens of supporters marched to parliament on Wednesday to protest his expulsion.

His party can, however, move forward. It recently changed its name to the Female Politicians 48 party. According to the Japanese electoral system, another member of the party will be nominated to take its place in parliament.

In a statement read out to parliament on Tuesday, GaaSyy said, “There will always be people like me running for office. If you don’t want the world you created destroyed, please exclude these people from the application process from the start.

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