The disciplinary committee of Japan's upper house agreed Tuesday to order a YouTuber-turned-lawmaker living abroad to offer an apology in parliament for not attending any sessions since he was elected to the Diet last year.
If GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, does not comply with the demand, the House of Councillors panel will consider a stricter measure, including expelling him as a member of the chamber.
GaaSyy, who belongs to the NHK Party, a single-issue party critical of Japan's public broadcaster, has been living in the United Arab Emirates since before the upper house election in 2022 in which he won his seat. He claims that he may be arrested if he returns to Japan over allegations of fraud.
There are four levels of reprimand under the national Diet law. In descending order, a lawmaker can be expelled from parliament, suspended from parliament, required to apologize in parliament and issued a warning in parliament.
At Tuesday's meeting of the committee, Satoshi Hamada, policy chief of the NHK Party, read a statement on behalf of GaaSyy, saying he will not return to Japan to take part in Diet sessions for fear of being "maliciously detained" due to a "false criminal complaint."
After the reprimand for GaaSyy is formally approved by the upper house on Wednesday, the chamber is expected to convene a regular session as early as March to urge him to make an apology.
GaaSyy may become the first upper house member to be reprimanded since 2013, when Antonio Inoki, a late professional wrestler-turned-politician, was prohibited from attending parliament for 30 days for travelling to North Korea without permission.
Ahead of the upper election in July last year, GaaSyy came into the public eye for posting about gossip and allegations of scandals involving celebrities on his YouTube channel.
He was elected to the Diet under the proportional representation system, in which seats are distributed in accordance with the total votes cast for each political party and its candidates.
GaaSyy, who ranked top in the NHK Party's candidate list, is reported to have swindled money from multiple people by telling them that he would give them an opportunity to meet members of the popular K-pop boy band BTS.
In December, Japanese police asked GaaSyy to undergo voluntary questioning on suspicion of defamation and extortion in connection with his YouTube posts, according to investigative sources.
The police searched several locations linked to him over the allegations in January.
GaaSyy had expressed readiness to return to Japan in March to be questioned by the police, but later reversed course.
Under Japan's Constitution, parliamentary members are "exempt from apprehension while the Diet is in session."