INTERPOL released a Blue Notice following Japan’s Foreign Ministry ordering GaaSyy to return his passport after police obtained an arrest warrant over celebrity defamation and threat allegations.  GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani, allegedly threatened three people, including actor Go Ayano, in his YouTube videos. In the videos, he is accused of suggesting he would defame the three and urged one of them, a company owner, to go out of business. 

Mr. Higashitani has lived in the United Arab Emirates since before he won his seat as a lawmaker in Japan’s Upper House election in July 2022.  Just one day before these charges, Mr. Higashitani was expelled from his position as a Japanese lawmaker for not appearing at any sessions since he was elected last year. His expulsion is the first in over seven decades and only the third ever, the last expulsion being in 1951. 

Purpose of Blue Notices

Unlike Red Notices, Blue Notices can be issued prior to criminal charges being filed and differ from Red Notices in their function and use.  As previously posted by the RNLJ, a Blue notice exists to assist with the following:

  • Seeking the location of someone connected with a criminal investigation
  • Identifying someone connected with a criminal investigation
  • Finding witnesses to a criminal act, and
  • Locating friends, relatives, or associates of offenders or suspected offenders

As Mr. Higashitani’s precise location is currently unknown, the Blue Notice is likely being used to help locate him. 

If Japanese authorities request a Red Notice against Mr. Higashitani, the principle of dual criminality may prevent one from being issued, and it may also protect him from being extradited. Dual criminality occurs when the crime alleged by the country seeking the individual is also a crime in the country where the individual is located. Dual criminality is a requirement in most extradition treaties in order for extradition proceedings to take place.

Why a defamation charge may not lead to a Red Notice

Defamation is normally a civil charge rather than a criminal one in most countries. Likewise, threats of a general or unspecified nature, or conditional threats, are often not sufficient to form the basis for criminal charges. Civil matters cannot form the basis for INTERPOL’s involvement unless a criminal element also exists. It appears that the current allegations may not support a Red Notice request.

As of now, without a Red Notice, and with the potential barrier of dual criminality, Mr. Higashitani may not be extradited from the United Arab Emirates. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.