Japanese former lawmaker and social media personality GaaSyy was arrested Sunday for allegedly threatening to defame some individuals, including a celebrity, after returning to Japan from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been residing, police said.
The 51-year-old, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, became a popular YouTuber posting videos about celebrity scandals on his channel. He was stripped of his status as a lawmaker in March by the House of Councillors for not attending any sessions since being elected last year.
His arrest took place at Narita airport near Tokyo upon his arrival from the UAE. Wearing a T-shirt, short pants and sandals, GaaSyy, handcuffed and accompanied by investigators, was seen smiling as he walked through the gate where dozens of media personnel had gathered.
He was placed on an international wanted list in April through the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, according to investigative sources.
After obtaining a warrant for his arrest in March, police sent investigators to the UAE in May and asked for local authorities' cooperation, the sources said. No investigator was aboard the plane with him.
GaaSyy allegedly threatened to defame three people in his YouTube videos, including actor Go Ayano and jewelry designer Kimio Fukutani. He is also suspected of interfering with the business activities of one of the three people.
Japan's Foreign Ministry had ordered GaaSyy to hand over his passport after police obtained the warrant. He had ignored repeated requests from authorities to return to Japan and voluntarily submit to questioning over the videos, the sources said.
His passport expired in April after the former lawmaker submitted a report to the Japanese consulate general in the UAE saying he had lost the document.
After the media reported police were seeking a warrant for his arrest, GaaSyy repeatedly said he "would not return to Japan" via his online posts.
GaaSyy was elected to the Diet under the proportional representation system, whereby seats are distributed in accordance with the total votes cast for each political party and its candidates.
He was a member of the Seijikajoshi48 Party, which roughly translates to politician girls 48 party. The minor opposition party has changed its name from the NHK Party, known for its criticism of Japan's public broadcaster.
He had been living in the Middle Eastern country since before winning his seat in an upper house election in July 2022.