Yoshikazu Higashitani, the only Japanese lawmaker to ever be expelled from office for "never showing up," has seen his political career turn sour due to a series of absences.
Higashitani was elected to the upper house last July and went viral on YouTube as GaaSyy, where he gained fame with his celebrity gossip videos. However, his lack of attendance at the Diet – Japan's bicameral legislature – led to his eventual expulsion.
The Decision To Expel
In March 2023, members of both chambers proposed that Higashitani should be removed from office due to his long-term absence and non-payment of fines imposed upon him by the Diet. The motion was passed in the upper house and then again in the lower house, with both voting for his dismissal.
The expulsion is the most severe punishment a lawmaker can receive in Japan and it was reported that many of Higashitani's fellow legislators were shocked by the decision.
What Does the Japanese Law Say About the Expulsion of MPS?
Japanese law states that lawmakers can be disciplined, suspended, or expelled from office. If a lawmaker has been absent for more than 30 days consecutively and does not participate in the Diet’s activities for one year, they are at risk of being dismissed.
Lawmakers can also be punished if they fail to pay fines within a certain period of time or if they give false statements in the Diet. In Higashitani’s case, he was found guilty of not attending the Diet for an extended period of time and failing to pay his fines.
The expulsion process requires approval from both houses of the Diet before a final decision is made. Once approved, a committee is put together consisting of members from both houses and representatives from various political parties. This committee then reviews the evidence related to the case before making its recommendation.
If it is decided that a lawmaker should be removed from office, their dismissal comes into effect immediately. They will no longer have any access to their official duties or benefits associated with their role as a member of parliament.
Reactions To The Expulsion
The backlash to Higashitani's expulsion has been swift and widespread. Many have expressed disappointment at his disregard for his office. while others have seen this as an opportunity to urge more diligent politicians to hold their elected posts more seriously.
Social media has also been abuzz with debate over what should be done about such issues – especially when they stem from celebrities who are elected into office.
Yoshikazu Higashitani's expulsion is a stark reminder of the responsibility that comes with being an elected official in Japan, and it serves as a lesson to all who are thinking of following in his footsteps. A position in public office should not be taken lightly, and those who are elected should always strive to serve the people they represent with utmost respect and dedication.
Thus, it is an unfortunate turn of events for Higashitanbu. But hopefully, his experience will help other YouTubers – or celebrities – rethink their plans before entering into politics. Likewise, this incident also highlights the importance of treating one’s political post with seriousness and commitment.