Ex-lawmaker GaaSyy pleads guilty to intimidation, apologizes

YouTuber and former Japanese lawmaker GaaSyy has pleaded guilty to habitual intimidation of people online and other charges.

GaaSyy, whose real name is Higashitani Yoshikazu, is charged with repeatedly intimidating four people, including an actor, by posting threatening videos on YouTube from February to August 2022.

He is said to have threatened two of them in an attempt to have them withdraw their criminal complaints against him.

His trial opened at the Tokyo District Court, on Tuesday.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges, and apologized, saying that he is sorry for causing victims substantial mental pain and financial damage.

He said he will reflect on his conduct, and atone for his actions for the rest of his life. He bowed deeply to the visitors' gallery.

His defense team insisted that his intimidation was not habitual.

Prosecutors said the defendant uploaded videos slandering celebrities and others, and gained more than one million registered viewers at one time. They said this earned the defendant a lot of money.

In a statement read by prosecutors, the actor said he suffered mentally, felt fear, and his self-esteem was totally damaged. He was quoted as saying that he wants a ruling that will prevent malicious slander on social media.

The next hearing is scheduled on October 30. Whether the defendant's conduct was habitual and the gravity of punishment are expected to be focal points.

GaaSyy was elected to the Upper House in July 2022, but was expelled from the Diet in March after failing to attend any of its sessions.

He was later detained in the United Arab Emirates, and arrested by Japanese police upon arriving in Japan.