The case of Carlos Ghosn – former world traveler and head of Nissan Motors, Renault and Mitshibishi until arrested in Japan and held in confinement for 130 days while being vigorously and continually questioned by Japanese prosecutors presents an interesting interrelationship between Japanese Criminal Law and Japanese mores, especially those surrounding the relationship between Japanese companies and their employees. To save a failing Nisan Ghosn (Mr. Cost Cutter) employed tactics well known in the West, such as layoffs of employees, but which run counter to the mores that govern the relationship between major Japanese corporations and their so-called life time employees. Shortly after a Japanese executive became the President of Nissan Nissan turned “state’s evidence” charging Ghosn with criminal conduct – failing to properly report his compensation to the Japanese equivalent of the SEC. Ghosn’s legal problems arose with his arrest and refusal to confess arguing that he had done nothing illegal. His confinement ended with bail being granted after previously having been denied on several occasions and on strict conditions – including limits on his ability to see his wife and limits on subjects he could discuss with her. Notwithstanding restrictions on his movements he managed to escape from Japan only to surface in Lebanon (one of three countries he is a citizen of). He is now a fugitive from Justice in Lebanon. Japan seeks to have him returned and persists in wanting to prosecute him. The Japanese Minister of Justice recently said Ghosn should return and prove his innocence only to modify the statement by recognizing that it is the Japanese State that must prove him guilty. Meanwhile Ghosn complains he escaped from Japan’s system of “hostage Justice.”
Carl F. Goodman
is a retired partner of the International Law Firm Jones Day and is a retired member of the New York and District of Columbia Bar as well as a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. He has previously worked at the Department of Justice before moving to the State Department where he was a senior Foreign Service Reserve Officer and US Agent representing the United States before the International Lake Ontario Claims Tribunal.