TOKYO — A YouTuber-turned-legislator was expelled from Japan’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday after his continued absence from parliamentary sessions since he was elected last year.

Yoshikazu Higashitani, who also goes by the name GaaSyy, including on a popular YouTube account that has been suspended, lost his seat after failing to appear in the House of Aldermen while residing abroad, angering his colleagues.

GaaSyy, 51, received nearly 300,000 votes in July in his campaign for the Diet, Japan’s parliament, as a member of a single-issue party advocating reforms at NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster. He had been living in the United Arab Emirates even before the election and has not returned to Japan since, citing concerns that police might detain him while they investigate defamation claims stemming from the celebrity gossip that propelled him to YouTube stardom.

GaaSyy said on Instagram last week that he was in Gaziantep, Turkey to help with earthquake relief and that it was too soon to return to Japan. It is believed that she is back in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

He is the first Japanese legislator to be expelled from the legislature in over 70 years, and the first to be expelled during an extended period of absence. The decision does not prevent him from running for office again.

The vote was 235-1, with the only opposition being his only party mate in the chamber, Satoshi Hamada, who said he hoped GaaSyy could continue to serve as a member of parliament.

“I would like to apologize to Congressman GaaSyy and everyone who voted for him,” Hamada told reporters after the vote.

Ayaka Ohtsu, GaaSyy’s party leader, said she was «disappointed» by the decision and that GaaSyy could have carried out its functions remotely on behalf of its constituents, some of whom protested outside parliament on Wednesday.

“I think the 300,000 or so people who voted for GaaSyy knew that he would work from abroad,” he told a news conference in Tokyo.

Lawmakers from other parties said it was an easy decision.

«Despite being given the opportunity to apologize in full Diet, he never responded and continued to ignore the opportunity,» said Hiroshige Seko, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Japan’s Temple University in Tokyo, said the decision made sense from the point of view of taxpayers, who have paid GaaSyy about $149,000 since he was elected.

“His ouster is not surprising, as he never attended sessions of the Diet and did not represent the disillusioned voters who supported him,” Kingston said in an email. «No showing up is not the same as shaking up politics as usual.»