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ED’S NOTE DEC 31, 2019: UPDATING THIS POST FROM FEB 2019 BECAUSE OF CARLOS GHOSN’S REEMERGENCE IN BEIRUT, HAVING SOMEHOW ESCAPED FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE JAPANESE JUDICIARY. THE BEST ARTICLE I’VE FOUND ON THIS EVENT IS ON THE DAILY BEAST HERE.
DEBITO.ORG HAS COME DOWN DECISIVELY IN FAVOR OF GHOSN’S ESCAPE, AS CH 6 OF BOOK “EMBEDDED RACISM” DEPICTS JAPAN’S JUDICIARY AS DECIDEDLY AGAINST JUSTICE FOR NJ CAUGHT IN THEIR “HOSTAGE JUSTICE” SYSTEM. FACT IS, GHOSN NEVER STOOD A CHANCE OF A FAIR TRIAL, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE SURFACED LATER THAT INDICATE NISSAN’S OWN (JAPANESE) CEO IS JUST AS GUILTY OF SIMILAR “CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR” THAT DID NOT RESULT IN ARRESTS.
READ ON FOR THE REASON WHY DEBITO.ORG BELIEVES THE GHOSN CASE WAS A FLIMSY ONE FROM THE START. AND HAPPY NEW YEAR. — Debito Arudou Ph.D.
Hi Blog. Debito.org has been holding back on commenting on the Carlos Ghosn arrest. A former president of Nissan and Mitsubishi, Ghosn was a hero in many circles for saving the formerly struggling Japanese automakers and making them world players again. (Disclosure: I’ve owned a number of Nissans, and found their quality improved over the years.) So imagine everyone’s surprise (not the least his) when he’s returning from an overseas meeting last November and suddenly gets arrested at Haneda Airport (along with a fellow NJ associate), and thrown in the clink without trace for the standard 48 hours without charge, then a couple of ten-day periods before re-arrest and repeat.
The reason Debito.org has been holding back is because, well, actually, what happened to Ghosn after arrest is not all that surprising from a jurisprudential perspective. This could happen to anyone regardless of nationality (excepting the general denial of bail for NJ). And I personally have to admit feeling just a shade of schadenfreude for a filthy-rich one-percenter getting taken down a peg.
Truth is, I wanted to see if he’d get the standard treatment afforded most perps in Japan — a few weeks, months, or even more than a year of disappearing while being put under constant duress until you sign a confession (aka “hostage justice“). Plus the standard treatment given NJ under arrest — an additional presumption of a lack of human rights for foreigners. More on all that in my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6, “A Chinaman’s Chance in Japanese Court”. I did comment on Ghosn for The Japan Times in my annual year-end round-up Just Be Cause column (published version here, “Director’s Cut” here).
Well, Ghosn has gotten the treatment. Except for the fact he’s been able to communicate with the media in high-profile interviews. More on that below. So here’s Debito.org’s long-awaited comment about the Ghosn Case (from that “Director’s Cut”):
DEBITO.ORG COMMENTS: The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.
This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.
One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.
Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.
And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)
Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!
It’s Debito.org’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.
But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99% conviction rates.
The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.
(Source on “statute of limitations does not apply:” “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/)
Well, the news is now Ghosn’s case has been picked over by the media (the charges are being called “thin soup” below). And Ghosn’s high-profile status has enabled him to get a high-profile interview with the Nikkei newspaper below (for fifteen minutes, with a five-minute extension). Few if any other people incarcerated in this system have this much ability to draw attention and make their case to the public.
Moreover, since Ghosn’s Japanese language abilities are probably not at the level of the language in his interview, it’s reasonable to assume the interview was in English. In my direct experience in dealing with other incarcerated foreigners, if they talk with anyone they must do it with a guard present, and they must speak in Japanese at all times so the guard can understand what’s being said. Ghosn’s ability to get around that rule seems to be another trapping of his privilege.
That’s a bit annoying. But if it eventually shines light on an abuse of the Japanese judicial system in specific (i.e., uneven enforcement of the law), and shames Japan into reforming its “hostage justice” interrogation system in general, then some good may come of it.
In the end, the Ghosn Case, on top of the the Woodford Case, remain excellent reasons why foreigners shouldn’t hope to become executives in Japanese companies. One boardroom coup later by the nativists, you could be in jail for being CEO while foreign. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
NISSAN’S GHOSN CRISIS
Exclusive interview: Ghosn says ‘plot and treason’ led to arrest
Ex-Nissan chief claims rivals wanted to ‘get rid’ of him
Nikkei Asian Review, Nikkei staff writers, January 30, 2019
In his first interview since being detained on Nov.19, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn claimed that certain people had “distorted reality” for the purpose of “getting rid of him.”
TOKYO — Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn told Nikkei in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he had “no doubt” that the charges against him were the result of “plot and treason” by Nissan executives opposed to his plan for deeper integration between Renault and its two Japanese alliance partners.
Speaking on the 10th floor of the Tokyo Detention House, dressed in a black fleece jacket and gray sweatpants, Ghosn acknowledged that “there was a plan to integrate” Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. The plans had been discussed with Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa in September, he added.
In his first interview since being detained on Nov. 19, Ghosn claimed that he had wanted to include Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko in the talks, but “Saikawa wanted it one-on-one.”
Once the three automakers were more closely integrated, Ghosn wanted to ensure there would be “autonomy under one holding company,” he said, adding that this plan was in line with how he had operated the alliance in past years.
Allies of Ghosn’s have argued that some Nissan executives feared a further concentration of power under his leadership, prompting them to cooperate with Tokyo prosecutors.
Nikkei had been requesting a one-on-one interview with Ghosn since his arrest last year. The approval was granted this week.
Ghosn was allowed by the Tokyo District Court to speak with Nikkei. Media interviews with prominent business leaders in detention are extremely rare in Japan.
“We don’t have much time. Let’s get started,” Ghosn said at the beginning of the interview from behind the acrylic glass partition. As the end of the allotted 15 minutes approached, he asked the officer for “a little more” time, and was granted a five-minute extension.
The Brazilian-born tycoon has dismissed accusations that his 19-year reign at Nissan was a “dictatorship,” saying this was a narrative created by rivals who wanted to remove him. “People translated strong leadership to dictator, to distort reality” for the “purpose of getting rid of me,” he added.
Ghosn has been held without bail for more than 70 days since Tokyo prosecutors arrested him on allegations of financial misconduct.
He was charged with underreporting his salary over several years, and aggravated breach of trust for allegedly transferring to Nissan personal trading losses from foreign exchange contracts.
The breach-of-trust charges center on $14.7 million in payments to a company run by Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali.
He denied the accusations and claimed “the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval].”
The payment was made from Ghosn’s “CEO reserve,” a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend. He said the “CEO reserve is not a black box” and “four officers signed” for the payment to al-Juffali.
Ghosn is also accused of receiving 7.82 million euros ($8.9 million) in improper payments through Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V., a Netherlands-based joint venture between the two Japanese companies. He said the venture was established for “synergy and not for payment,” adding that the claims of improper payments were a “distortion of reality.”
Ghosn said his purchase of luxury properties in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut — which Nissan alleges were paid for improperly through a subsidiary — were approved by the legal department. Pointing to a former loyalist and long-time executive in the legal department, Ghosn said: “Hari Nada has done all this.”
He justified the houses on the grounds that he “needed a safe place where [he] can work and receive people in both Brazil and Lebanon.”
“[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don’t know the interpretation of [such] facts,” Ghosn said, showing his frustration over Nissan’s internal investigation.
“These are known by everybody, why didn’t they tell me?”
Ghosn, whose second bail request was rejected Jan. 22, insisted that he was not a flight risk and he would not destroy evidence.
“I won’t flee, I will defend [myself],” he added. “All the evidence is with Nissan, and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me.”
When asked about life in the detention center, Ghosn said “there is up and down.” As for his health, he simply said he was “doing fine.”
After his arrest, Ghosn appeared to have envisioned attending a Renault board meeting in Paris, explaining his position, and holding a news conference. But his prolonged detention in a Tokyo jail frustrated those plans.
Nissan dismissed Ghosn from his position as chairman in November. An extraordinary general meeting of shareholders scheduled in mid-April is expected to remove Ghosn as a director.
Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault, and former Michelin chief Jean-Dominique Senard was appointed as the chairman.
The three members of the alliance are expected to revisit how it is operated in the absence of Ghosn’s leadership. “I cannot speculate about the future of the alliance,” Ghosn said.
The French government, Renault’s largest shareholder, has previously requested Ghosn make the relationship between the two automakers “irreversible.”
Following Ghosn’s arrest, France also informed Tokyo of an intention to press ahead with integration. Saikawa, in contrast, has insisted there is “no need for now to discuss [it].”
Interviewed by Nikkei commentator Atsushi Nakayama and Nikkei staff writers Akito Tanaka and Yosuke Kurabe.
Ghosn charges are thin soup — case for ex-Nissan boss
Prosecutors fail to make a strong case against car maker’s former chief
By Stephen Givens, Nikkei Asian Review, January 29, 2019
Two months after his arrest at Haneda Airport and confinement at Kosuge detention center, we now have a good picture of the criminal case against Carlos Ghosn-and it looks like pretty thin soup.
As reported in the media, the evidence shows not criminal malfeasance, but at most lapses in judgment and corporate protocol that ultimately did not result in any actual harm to Nissan Motor or its shareholders or personal enrichment of Ghosn.
The criminal case turns on a series of technical and subjective judgments about whether the words of the relevant statutes and regulations apply to the transactions in question.
By any objective measure, the misconduct alleged was less serious than the corporate misfeasance that is routinely overlooked in Japan or handled by noncriminal administrative wrist-slapping.
The first, and for many weeks the only, criminal charge brought against Ghosn was that Nissan’s periodic securities filings disclosed just the currently payable portion of his compensation. They failed to report the portion deferred until after his retirement.
Ghosn’s motive for not wanting to report his full compensation currently-that it was embarrassingly large in relation to that of other Japanese CEOs and Ghosn’s Nissan colleagues — does not constitute serious criminal intent.
Further, the evidence indicates that Ghosn tried in good faith to structure the deferred compensation in a way that would permit him legally not to report it currently under the rules, which require current reporting of director-level compensation only to the extent the right to receive it has become “clear.”
Though the documentation has not been made public, it appears that it was structured as some kind of post-retirement consulting arrangement that would, at a minimum, require Ghosn to provide Nissan with services after retirement to collect the compensation.
It is hard to imagine that Nissan would have failed to report Ghosn’s deferred compensation over many years without professional legal advice that it did not need to be currently reported because Ghosn’s right to receive it was conditional.
It is equally hard to understand why Nissan’s Japanese management, having condoned the deferred compensation arrangement and its nonreporting for years, is now using it as the lead card in the criminal case.
Beyond this, criminal liability under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act for false disclosure is explicitly predicated on the requirement that it be “material”- that is, it would have a significant impact on an investor’s decision to sell or buy Nissan shares.
For investors, the amount of Ghosn’s unreported deferred compensation, about $10 million per year, is clearly very small compared to Nissan’s $90 billion in annual revenues.
Meanwhile, Japan’s weak securities disclosure standards permit Nissan not to reveal information that would be much more relevant to investors, such as the terms of the “alliance” contracts between Renault, Nissan’s major shareholder, and Nissan.
It does not inspire confidence in Japan’s justice system that Ghosn’s guilt or innocence on the this charge will hinge on semantic distinctions over the meanings of “clear” and “material.”
The second criminal charge against Ghosn is for two, related claims of “aggravated breach of trust” under the Companies Act. This vaguely-worded statute imposes criminal liability on directors of a company who for personal gain “commit an act in breach of such person’s duties and causes financial damages” to the company. Typically this statute is applied to cases of embezzlement-executives taking company assets.
The first prong of the breach of trust charge has been loosely characterized in the press as “the shifting of Ghosn’s personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan” but details of the transactions disclosed by Ghosn’s lawyers show it to be less pernicious than advertised.
Ghosn entered into a foreign exchange hedging transaction with Shinsei Bank to protect his yen-denominated Nissan compensation against the risk of depreciation. Like many others he failed to anticipate the financial crisis of 2008, which sent the yen soaring and reduced the value of the Nissan securities he had offered Shinsei Bank as collateral.
Shinsei Bank asked Ghosn for additional security. Ghosn considered offering the value of his uncashed Nissan retirement allowance-but doing so would have required him actually to leave Nissan at a time he was a vital part of the management. Instead, he asked Nissan to guarantee his downside risk on the hedge, but pledged to fully cover the liability.
Critically, Ghosn’s request for help with his unexpected difficulty received formal approval by the Nissan board. Admittedly the Securities Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC), deemed the transaction improper a few months later and ordered Nissan to get rid of the hedging contract.
So, Nissan carried a contingent liability — fully guaranteed by Ghosn — as an accommodation to its CEO for approximately four months. Nissan suffered no actual loss and was never at risk because it was fully covered by Ghosn’s retirement allowance. The transaction was not concealed; it was approved by the Nissan board and reported to the SESC, which saw no reason to request a criminal probe a decade ago.
So, you may ask, where is the crime? According to news reports, it turns out the prosecutors are not satisfied with the drafting of the board resolution. They are quibbling that the board resolution did not mention Ghosn by name and only referred generically to “foreign board members” as beneficiaries of the transaction. Moreover, the prosecutors are claiming the resolution was not specific on how Nissan was to be protected with 100% certainty against possible loss. Ghosn’s criminal liability turns almost entirely on the wording of a board resolution that Ghosn himself surely did not draft.
The second prong of the breach of trust charge relates to the subsequent transfer, in compliance with the SESC’s order, of the Shinsei Bank contract from Nissan to companies controlled by Saudi national Khaled Juffali. Nissan affiliates in the Middle East paid Juffali’s companies $14.7 million over four years for variety of “support activities” in the region. The prosecutors claim that Nissan’s money was paid for Juffali’s guarantee of Ghosn’s personal contingent liability.
It seems unrealistic, however, that anyone would pay $14.7 million of Nissan money for a guarantee of a contingent liability worth at most $16.7 million-a huge overpayment.
This strongly suggests that Juffali’s companies were being paid for doing more than simply backing Ghosn’s Shinsei liability. The more commercially-likely scenario is more innocuous, one in which Ghosn asked a friendly business counterparty to assume an essentially riskless contingent liability as a favor in the context of a long-term business relationship. This represents the kind of mutual exchange between companies with long-term relationships practiced daily by the Japanese corporate establishment.
No question, a more scrupulous and careful executive would have avoided pushing the gray boundaries of the law. But nothing we know that Ghosn allegedly did smells like a serious crime deserving prison. That he remains in confinement while the prosecutors argue semantics to deprive him of his freedom places Japan’s criminal justice system in an awkward light.
Stephen Givens is a corporate lawyer based in Tokyo.
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128 comments on “Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform”
What will Carlos’ escape from Japan amount too? Not much in the long run. A few Japanese officials will bow their apologies for letting him escape. The attention of most ordinary people will quickly fade into the ether of more interesting things in SNS. The bail system will become marginally more strict for NJ but not change that much because most Japanese are satisfied with the system they have which protects them from foreign influences like Carlos Ghosn. There will be some mild curiosity in his upcoming press conference this week, but it will receive very little Japanese coverage if any. People in other countries will say a tsk tsk for Carlos, but feel very little real sympathy for him, because he is rich, and managed to escape. More important things beg for attention. In the long run, Japan is an exotic, declining, and increasingly less significant country on the world stage. Nice place for a quiet retirement as long as you don’t make any waves.
It seems too early to shut down this thread as things are still developing.
Japan prosecutors have issued a warrant for the arrest of Carole Ghosn.
— Just shutting down the thread involving Owen Hughes. Please continue talking about Ghosn.
I do admit it is indeed ironic how most of us are currently kinda’ rooting for this man, this couple, this whole family, to stay free from any further arrests (even though the whole family probably was involved in grabbing money in various illegal ways as the rich tend to do in general, haha.)
But hey Japan, due to the fact your prosecutors and police officers broke (and break daily) the laws they swore to uphold, and due to the fact Japan’s current hostage-interrogation jail-duress forced-confession Jurisprudence laws themselves are unjust, well, the result is: JAPAN’s illegal actions have directly led to the worldwide audience rooting for these (probable) “villains” to “get away scot-free” with “zillion$ of loot.”
Japan’s current justice system is pretty pretty bad, to have us poor folks rooting for zillionaires, haha.
So, Japan prosecutors and police officers, maybe now you should consider starting to actually obey your own laws.
And hey, Japan legislators, maybe now you should consider starting to legislate new police laws and court laws which actually match the developed world.
Since Japan’s leaders so desperately want to someday become a permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council, to someday be allowed to sit at the Big Boys’ table someday, how about trying this:
#1. Comply with the U.N. CERD Treaty which you signed and ratified in 1996 with just one simple step: Enact immediately then actually enforce a proper Civil Rights Law, to end your (almost 25 years of) violation of that Supreme Law United Nations Treaty.
#2. Legislate then actually obey proper Jurisprudence Laws, to end your victimization of suspects, to recognize the fact that all humans are innocent of any crime accusations until after they have been ruled guilty due to evidence having been presented to neutral judges and juries in a proper trial.
What legal protection from illegal stopping, illegal searching, illegal detaining, illegal jailing does the Emperor of Japan himself deserve? Legislate the same exact vital protection for ALL humans in Japan.
Just a thought. 🙂
PS – Hopefully I’m not breaking my “I won’t post more on the page” promise to CJ, since, well, this here is a NEW page of comments. 😉
— “Josh Lawrence” keeps switching names and deluging Debito.org with comment after comment, claiming he’s a victim of an “academic posing as journalist (taking jobs of trained bonafide journalists)”. He even suggested his case should be added to my Japan Times Annual Top Ten Human Rights Issues column for 2019. I’ve put him in the spam bucket.
Japan Prosecutor’s Office announced yesterday that they issued an arrest warrant against Carole Ghosn, a wife of ex-Nissan CEO, for lying to them while she was summoned for investigation. Good luck with that. She’s a Lebanese. What’s a possible reason she would ever revisit Japan in the future? Ghosn’s escape to Lebanon makes more sense than what people think, despite the risk of political uprising (i.e., anti-Israel terrorism). In that respect, he made a wise choice to move to the country that will provide a protection(although not sure it’s 100%) from a vengeful legal authority.
The legal authorities and pundits can whine, scream, and cry sour grapes as they want. Regardless of judgment on Ghosn and his wife, prosecutors team and legal authorities are the ones responsible for instigating the situation that has led to this consequence. Their abusive use of power in investigation and possible cover-up brought distrust and hostility toward Japanese criminal justice system.
Nissan is now filing a lawsuit against them over the mansion they are staying at. It doesn’t look like a company property to me, but they want to seize it for its estate value worth $17 million. They have been playing a victim so far, and they will likely keep doing so while they are able to hide behind the wall created by the prosecutors and justice ministry.
“the standard treatment afforded most perps in Japan”
“perp” being short for perpetrator, although he is only a suspect at this stage. Or perhaps “accused” when he is finally accused of a crime by the police.
He was “detained” as opposed to “arrested” although the distinction is that both ends you up in a 4 by six unheated room with the lights on 24/7 and you are lucky if you manage to survive on a bowl of rice and a few undercooked carrots and daikons in salt water for weeks or even months.
It’s not a place for the weak of heart.
I guess you all haven’t noticed how many times in the last 48 hours he’s been asked by prosecutors and the minister of justice to ‘prove his innocence’.
It’s the exact opposite of the presumption of innocence that first world legal systems have.
The burden is on them to ‘prove his guilt’.
The japanese (in)justice system has decided his guilt and doesn’t need evidence in that deliberation- it’s made its mind up. Now they want him to confess so that evidence becomes irrelevant to proceedings.
It’s all very Stalinist. Seriously, read Kafka.
“Prove your innocence” is like saying; prove that you did not commit this crime, which we say you did. So how can anybody “prove” that they did NOT do something because the proof that you did not do something cannot exist. That is impossible. That is why Japanese justice is not justice, it’s admit to what we say you did, or we will deprive you and your family of lives.
Being detained is usually a brief holding of someone on the street for cursory questioning.
In Ghosn’s case they took him in to custody so it was an arrest.
Just watched the press conference in its entirety. He made an enthusiastic case for his innocence, and I understand that is his main issue with Japan, but he seemed at a loss in understanding WHY he experienced what he did. Even after 17 years here, he still seemed pretty isolated from Japan and Japanese. He did make one reference to a higher conviction rate for NJ, but I doubt that sunk in much. A little disappointing.
I disagree. I watched all of it and I thought he did pretty good. I think he gave Japan and it’s legal systems a pretty thorough and deserved slamming.
I think he was absolutely right to stick to talking about the facts of the case, rather than going off on tangents about Japanese society and culture; what purpose would that have served? There are NJ journalists out there who still doubt (and can’t be bothered to verify) that Japan can hold suspects and subject them to the conditions Ghosn described, THAT alone is testing their credulity, they would have merely dismissed Ghosn as a bitter racist had he in fact attempted to enlighten them to the reality of daily discrimination in Japan. They’ve all been taken in (as I was at first!) by statements such as;
Japan shares western democratic values.
Japan is a liberal country.
Japan is a country of law.
There is no discrimination in Japan.
Japan is an advanced country.
For journalists to accept that these statements are falsehoods would mean admitting that they haven’t been telling the truth about Japan all these years. They aren’t going to do it.
And these are falsehoods, because while Japanese Prime Ministers travel abroad and spout all this stuff, they then come home and say things like ‘the constitution must be changed because it’s western liberal ideas are not compatible with traditional Japanese values’ (that’s Abe).
Well, one big difference is that he spoke out to his favorite audience(most are business/corporate clients and journalists/reporters who are generally impartial. That wouldn’t happen should it be in Japan. He wasn’t(and wouldn’t be) even allowed to hold a press conference out there, thanks to semi-autocratic legal regime and incredibly partisan justice system.
Fascinating (and pretty chaotic Q&A) press conference with Ghosn in Lebanon. In full:
Thanks for that link, I just now watched every second from 0:00 to 1:15:23 with full attention and even before beginning the Q&A section I have already come to my absolute conclusion:
I love Carlos Ghosn.
Seriously, I feel and resonate with his vibration, his character, his integrity: he is a good man. He is the first and only wealthy person I respect.
Bravo Carlos, I wish you and all your loved ones Health, Humor, and Happiness. 🙂
From the Q&A:
[Ed: TV Tokyo asked Ghosn about his thoughts about breaking Japanese law by leaving Japan. The original post focussed overmuch and disparagingly on the elementary level of the English in TV Tokyo’s question. This is a digression and a distraction, so I have edited it to focus upon the contents of the press conference and the thrust of the questions and answers.]
Mr. Carlos Ghosn: As you said, I was and I still think I am, for at least part of the population, a respected businessman in Japan.
And I remember I had many meetings with the press, and the press which even is not very favorable to me, who told me “Nobody contests the fact that you have revived Nissan. Nobody contests the fact you have done good things in Japan, because all the other CEOs who are following some of the practices that you introduced in 1999, etc. Nobody contests that. OK? But you need to defend [yourself against] these charges.OK? You have charges against you and you need to defend [yourself against] them.”
Which is exactly what I want to do. But how can I defend myself, if I am denied justice? If I am denied the tools to defend myself, how can I defend myself?
Obviously breaking the law in Japan because I got out of Japan, is a problem. But don’t you think it’s a problem that the prosecutor broke 10 laws in Japan, following my [arrest], and nobody cares. Nobody cares. They [the prosecutors] broke the law.
You know very well that there is a law in Japan saying the prosecutor cannot leak. You know that. OK? You know that. But you know they leak. Everybody tells you: they leak.
All the journalists come tell me ‘You know, we heard this from the prosecutor.’ OK, they [the prosecutors] are breaking the law. But nobody cares.
So why me breaking the law [by leaving Japan] is a problem, when the prosecutor breaking 10 laws is not a problem? And nobody cares.
So, at a certain point in time, when you are in a situation, where you are the only guy who has to respect the law [about not leaving the country] and everyone else doesn’t respect the law and nobody cares, you say: it’s a rigged system.
It’s a rigged system.
And frankly I don’t think Japan deserves that. I don’t think Japanese people are like that. As I told you, I like Japan. I like Japanese people. I spent 17 years [there]. I don’t regret it [my choice to live in Japan for 17 years.] I don’t regret it. I’m telling you.
What I regret is specific nominations I have done [like the Saikawa nomination] inside the company, because at the end of the day I was damn wrong about the people [those in the company whom I trusted, who then turned against me]. That [trusting those particular people], I regret that. But the Japanese people [in general] have been good to me. And my intention is not to hurt Japan, or to hurt the Japanese people. But why am I being paid with evil? Why? What did I do?
Why have I been treated like a terrorist in Japan? Like somebody who is going to hurt other people. What did I do to deserve this treatment? That’s what I don’t understand.
Japan News Seven: I was uh firstly very surprised that’s there was so FEW Japanese media here, and you didn’t let Japanese, other Japanese media in, and uh, Why you selected like that, or you have some kind of uh anger against Japanese media? …
Mr. Carlos Ghosn: No. Look, I am not segregating against Japanese media, I know that a lot of colleagues are down outside, but frankly: if YOU have been selected [as one of the journalists allowed into this press conference room here], in my opinion, it is because you were the only people who tried to be objective into the situation, and all the other people [the Japanese media waiting outside the room] were being sourced at the prosecutors. OK?
So frankly, introducing [to into this press conference room here] people who are really for the prosecutor propaganda is not any advantage for me. I want to talk with people who can analyze the facts and who can talk about the facts.
But it doesn’t mean I’m running from them [the Japanese media waiting outside], I can tell you, when we finish I’m going to go and see them, and tell them “Hello” and “I have nothing against you” but I wanted here in the room: the BBC, the CNN, the CBS, Le An-Nahar, the NBC, etc. the Global [media], because these are people who are big media who I know are going to be very objective in front of the case. They [the journalists in this room] are not going to be sweet to me, but they are going to be factual. While most of their colleagues [the Japanese media outside the room] for 14 months they [the Japanese media majority] have been telling everything Nissan and the prosecutors are saying. Every single thing, without any single sense of analysis, without any single sense of criticism [of Nissan and the prosecutors’ claims]. That’s why, I think, you know, unfortunately, this is a room, it’s already full, if I add all the Japanese media here, it would not have been possible. Thank you. But I’m not running from them. I’m counting on you [the Japanese journalists who were allowed into this room] to carry the message [to Japan].
Good call Debito. By the way, the Global News link of the press conference which you originally posted (and which I then re-linked to with a time stamp) has been taken down, so here is a CNBC link which probably will not be taken down:
“Why have I been treated like a terrorist in Japan? Like somebody who is going to hurt other people. What did I do to deserve this treatment? That’s what I don’t understand.”
I heard that and I thought: yeah! here is a guy with a lot of power, who doesn’t understand what is going on around him. A person who doesn’t understand the underlying animosity some Japanese feel for n.j. and anything “outside”. He paid dearly for that ignorance, but is naivety a capital offence? Surely not, buf it is, I am a capital offender.
Everyone eventually graduates from the initial state of ignorance about Japan’s embedded racism, to the realization of reality, some folks realize more quickly, some folks take a longer time. 🙂
Carlos Ghosn says: “To all foreigners in Japan, get out now while you can! Otherwise you will pay with your life!”
In this interview he finally talks about how foreigners are treated.
Steven Givens of Sophia U. says Ghosn effect “quite serious” but he mishmashes words in the latter half when asked a very good question about Japan justice system with regard to its treatment of foreigners.
Ghosn’s lawyer slams minister’s gaffe on proving innocence
TOKYO (AP) — A lawyer for Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman who skipped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon, on Friday slammed a gaffe by the Japanese justice minister who said that Ghosn should “prove” his innocence.
Francois Zimeray said in a statement addressed to Justice Minister Masako Mori that her mistake reflected Japanese justice, which goes against the human rights principle of presumption of innocence.
Mori has apologized for the error and said she meant to say the suspect should “assert” innocence, not prove it.
Bravo, Francois Zimeray!
Here’s that AP News link archived for posterity:
Thursday: Justice Minister Masako Mori says suspect must prove innocence.
Friday: Justice Minister Masako Mori forced to admit state must prove guilt.
Prove a non sequitur? Shesh! She obviously slept through her first year of law school.
— Actually, I think she was quite accurate about the nature of criminal prosecution in Japan. The accused does have prove his/her innocence in Japan. That was no gaffe. Only an inconvenient truth.
I love this!
Fours days ago spoof Japan news site The Rising Wasabi has parody news article about Carlos Ghosn’s situation in which Japan’s Justice Minister claims that the bullying and torture Carlos received is ‘Japan’s culture’;
Only yesterday Japan’s Justice Minister actually came out on record in real life and defended criticism of Japan’s hostage justice forced-confessions system by saying Every culture is different’.
Life parodying parody? You couldn’t make this up when the defense against criticism is basically the same as the spoof comment in a parody news story.
Yes, maybe this is culture.
More than 90% of respondents said they weren’t convinced by Ghosn’s criticisms of Japan’s criminal justice system, a survey by Tokyo-based broadcaster Fuji News Network showed. Just 4% found the former head of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA convincing, FNN reported. FNN didn’t provide a margin of error for the poll of 1,040 people, which it carried out Jan. 11-12.
There is no reason they should be. It serves THEM to the detriment of n.j. some who spend years in detention for shoplifting a 100 yen onigiri while they wait trial, unable to receive bail because they are a flight risk.
Ghosn says: Why not? to Hollywood on doing his life story.
So the producer of “Birdman” wants to make a docudrama of Carlos’ life. Holy smoke! Does anyone in Tokyo realize what this one man could do to Japan? A little before the Tokyo Olympics, Netflix releases: Ghosn: Thinking Outside The Box, and surprise, surprise! People start to cancel their trips to Japan to see the Olympics because of they get arrested for being a little to boisterous, they may never get to leave. Maybe not en mass, but enough to make a serious dent. How much could he cost Japan? How much damage can he do? Not to mention just being able to talk down the value of Nissan and the Japanese automotive industry in general, Nissan down 30% since his arrest alone.
These idiots in Tokyo had better get out of their box before “Ghosn Protocol” knocks them out of their socks.
Here is an article by the Financial Times which summarises the issues pretty well so far. It seems to be a tie Japan 1: Ghosn 1 at this point. It is heartening to see the outside world looking at what goes on here. How long this attention will last is the question.
Ghosns lawyer and team resigns from representing Ghosn in Japan. No surprise there
NHK reports tonight that Ghosn has hired a team of international lawyers that will go after Nissan for damages everywhere in the world they can. Ghosn 2: Japan 1.
Is it really “resigning” when your employer leaves you behind in the dust?
It’s called “restructuring” which is the same as calling it “layoff” or in Ghosnspeak: You didn’t do what I hired you to do. We no longer have a professional relationship in spite of the fact that you are one of the most “respected” lawyers in your country.
One who dines with swine, must swallow bitter water.
Ghosn says Nissan will probably go bankrupt in two to three years, according to his lawyer.
Mass layoffs, reduced line of products, plant closings, dealer depression, sales down.
Bailout time for Japan Inc.?