Absentee lawmaker expelled from Japan's Upper House

Japan's Upper House has stripped a member of the chamber of his status as a lawmaker for failing to attend a single Diet session.

On Wednesday, the Upper House plenary session voted 235 to one to expel opposition Seijikajoshi48 Party member GaaSyy. He will no longer be a lawmaker.

Upper House President Otsuji Hidehisa declared that the Diet Law is being used to remove GaaSyy's status.

GaaSyy, whose real name is Higashitani Yoshikazu, has not attended any parliamentary sessions since he was elected in July 2022. GaaSyy, who resides overseas, became known for his YouTube content.

Last week, GaaSyy failed to show up at an Upper House plenary session and deliver an apology. The apology had been demanded by the chamber as punishment.

On Tuesday, the Upper House disciplinary committee voted unanimously to expel GaaSyy from the chamber.

At Wednesday's Upper House plenary session, disciplinary committee chief Suzuki Muneo outlined the screening process that had led to the expulsion.

Hamada Satoshi, an Upper House member of the same party as GaaSyy, said an expulsion from the chamber because of absences is illegal. He said the move to exclude minority groups is unacceptable.

An expulsion is the most serious of four punishments that can be handed down to Diet lawmakers. The last time it happened was in 1951.

GaaSyy is the third lawmaker to be removed under Japan's post-war constitution, but he is the first to be removed for failing to attend sessions.