Japan vows to strengthen border checks in chase for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn

Japan’s justice minister has vowed to strengthen border departure checks and review bail conditions after Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn fled the country.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 9:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 1:43 am
Carlos Ghosn speak during a press conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, in 2012. Picture: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara.
Carlos Ghosn speak during a press conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, in 2012. Picture: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara.

Carlos Ghosn had been out on bail while awaiting trial on various financial misconduct allegations. Having long protested his innocence, he later said from Lebanon that the reason he fled Japan was to ‘escape injustice’.

Masako Mori told reporters at a news conference that the ministry has acted to prevent a recurrence but have declined to give details. She was asked about reports that Mr Ghosn had hidden in a box and that baggage checks at a regional airport might have been insufficient.

The incident is under investigation, Ms Mori declined to report who will be held responsible for the oversight of such a high-profile flight, saying Carlos Ghosn left illegally and describing his actions as an ‘unjustifiable’ crime.

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Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn

She said: "Japan's justice system allows investigating the facts while it ensures the individual basic human rights at the same time

"It is set with appropriate procedures and it is operated appropriately."

The case was under review of the national judicial system and Ms Mori acknowledged criticisms from human rights advocates' descriptions of Japan's legal system as "hostage justice".

Mr Ghosn and others say Japan's system takes too long and is ‘inhumane’. He was banned from meeting with his wife while out on bail and preparing for his trial has taken a year, and a date has not been set.

Mr Ghosn was detained, twice, for a total of 130 days before he was released on bail a second time.

Takashi Takano, one of Mr Ghosn's lawyers in Japan, said he felt sad and betrayed that Mr Ghosn did not try to win a verdict of innocence in court.

He also expressed an understanding at how he might have lost hope with the Japanese judicial system.

Mr Ghosn had been charged with under-reporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.

His bail has been revoked and Interpol has issued a wanted notice.

Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon but, Ms Mori left open the possibility Japan could seek Mr Ghosn's return.