GaaSyy: Japan YouTuber arrested over celebrity threats
Police in Japan have captured a YouTuber and former MP over threats he made to celebrities.
Yoshikazu Higashitani, referred to on YouTube as GaaSyy, is popular for his celebrity gossip videos.
Local media said he returned to Japan from the UAE, two months after Tokyo police issued his arrest warrant.
He is accused of threatening to defame an actor, an entrepreneur, and a designer between February and August last year.
He is also suspected of obstructing the designer’s business activities.
Mr. Higashitani repeatedly ignored requests to return to Japan and voluntarily submit himself to police questioning.
Tokyo police had been sending investigators to the UAE since May, and urging authorities there to extradite him to Japan.
Japan’s foreign minister ordered him to return his passport after Tokyo police obtained his arrest warrant in March, but Mr. Higashitani said he’d lost it. His passport expired the following month.
Earlier this year, he became the first lawmaker in Japanese history to be kicked out of parliament without ever entering it.
Mr. Higashitani was one of two members elected from the Seijika-joshi-48 party – a single-issue party calling for reforms to Japan’s public broadcaster.
During his seven months in office, the social media personality refused to leave his home in Dubai and did not attend a single legislative session.
At the time, Japanese media reported that he’d refused to attend parliament because he feared being arrested over fraud allegations, and defamation claims from celebrities.
Legislators demanded that Mr. Higashitani flies to Tokyo to deliver an in-person apology in the chamber for his absence, but he failed to show up at the plenary session.
Instead, he announced on his YouTube channel that he was going to Turkey – and that he was planning to donate his salary to the Turkish earthquake relief.
His absence angered the Senate – whose members unanimously voted for his expulsion.