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News Carlos Ghosn arrested

Lothor

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Ghosn's comments were fully reported on the wide show that my wife and kids insist on watching in the mornings. I never thought I'd see the day that a foreigner would be making strong criticisms of Japan's 'justice' system on Japanese TV! The cosy stitch-up planned by the Nissan, the police, the media, and the unnamed politician(s) has turned into a massive own goal for them, and I had a strong feeling of schadenfreude watching the TV this morning. The fact that the prosecutors are now going after his wife underlines that this whole case has been motivated by spite rather than any desire to see justice done.
 

thomas

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and I had a strong feeling of schadenfreude watching the TV this morning. The fact that the prosecutors are now going after his wife underlines that this whole case has been motivated by spite rather than any desire to see justice done.
I do share your sentiment. While no new facts were presented, listening to Mr Ghosn's own account of the collusion between Nissan and the prosecutors was quite disconcerting. Guilty or not, the light shed on the ugly side of Japan's legal system with its presumption of guilt and 'hostage justice' has already resulted in a PR debacle for Japan.

What is troubling is the fact
  • that this system is not restricted to foreigners but extended to all defendants
  • that (not all but) a majority of the Japanese media uncritically echo the prosecution's prejudged conclusions.

Just compare how Reuters/AP (Japan Today) and Japan Times staff writer Satoshi Sugiyama report on Mr Ghosn's press conference.


Also, Abe has said something along the lines that he would have preferred Nissan to have sorted it all out in house (i.e. this has all been a waste of time) 安倍首相、ゴーン被告逃亡に「日産内で片付けてもらいたかった」
Probably because he realised how damaging the issue would be to Japan's image abroad. Fortunately, Mr Ghosn specifically excluded Mr Abe from any involvement. ;)
 

Lothor

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Thomas - that was interesting. Japan Today are usually the apologists for Japan Inc and Japan Times are more nuanced but it was the other way round in those reports. I noticed that in the Japan Today comments the usual nationalist shills were keeping quiet!
 

Deibiddo

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I think leaving Abe out of it in public was a deliberate move to allow him to cancel it all to save face. It's still rolling on for now though by the looks of it
 

johnnyG

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An opinion piece via Bloomberg:

One Other Thing Ghosn Doesn’t Want to Talk About
The closer the questions get to Nissan’s governance, the weaker his answers become.
Anjani Trivedi January 10, 2020, 7:00 AM GMT+9
Let’s not go there.


Let’s not go there.
Photographer: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg

Anjani Trivedi is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies in Asia. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal.

What was going on at Nissan Motor Co. for the last two decades?

With all his complaints about Nissan subordinates and the “depth of deprivation” he endured at the hands of the Japanese justice system, Carlos Ghosn didn’t really answer that at a news conference where he portrayed himself as a victim of human-rights abuses. Ghosn didn’t want to talk about his dramatic escape, of course, and again denied the charges leveled against him, including misuse of company assets and under-reporting his income.

Here’s what Ghosn really needed to address, and still does: Why was Nissan’s performance so poor for the better part of the last decade and why, if he was such a revered leader, didn’t he make the company a role model for corporate governance in Japan?

Ghosn showed himself to be good at deflection and blaming others. He accused his former protege, Hiroto Saikawa, of running Nissan into the ground as chief executive officer, a role shared with Ghosn from November 2016 to April 2017, after which Saikawa took the reins and his mentor continued to hold the chairmanship. The Brazilian-born executive, who had experience juggling top roles at Renault SA and Nissan for years, said he was moving on to help Mitsubishi Motors Corp. recover from a mileage scandal after Nissan completed its acquisition of a $2.3 billion stake.

But Nissan had been struggling well before then. Saikawa was taking over a company that was showing early signs of imminent trouble. Margins shrank to 11% by the end of 2017 from 16% in June 2010, coming down faster than some peers as the global market started peaking. Sales incentives coupled with dated models such as the Rogue and Sentra were eating into profits in the vital U.S. market and eroded the brand. Ghosn should have noticed the strategy was running astray. If anything, he was a man of targets, especially global market share and operating margins. Those often fell short. Saikawa said Thursday that he felt “betrayed” by the way Ghosn portrayed him.

Bumpy Ride
Nissan's quarterly margins were volatile and deteriorated over the last five years, when Ghosn was still in power
Source: Bloomberg
This leads to corporate governance. If Ghosn was truly the corporate czar portrayed in books on management, something he touted from his Beirut podium, then why such poor results in reforming oversight at Nissan? The automaker resisted adding outside directors for two years after Japan introduced its governance code in 2015, one of 11 companies to hold back. As of 2017, it still hadn’t joined most international companies in creating committees on accountability and transparency. You’d think a pioneer would have been out front before the issue went mainstream.

And, crucially for a company ruled so long by one man, how much time was spent on succession planning when Ghosn moved on to fix Mitsubishi? Was it responsible for him to keep one foot squarely in Nissan while managing two other carmakers?

Nissan has lost billions in value since Ghosn was arrested in November 2018, which he blames on management’s preoccupation with him and apathy for shareholders. But Nissan had already underperformed Japan’s Topix 500 for years, while return on equity dropped between 2011 and 2016 — when Ghosn alone was in charge. It actually rose a bit after Saikawa assumed the joint CEO role.

Where Are The Returns?
Nissan's return on equity remained flat for much of Ghosn's reign
Source: Bloomberg
The legendary executive may have brought Nissan back from the financial brink as the millennium turned, but that didn’t seem to be his priority over the past 10 years. Cementing his legacy focused his mind on the alliance with Renault, and pulling off a new big, spectacular deal. Does anyone really believe that a merger of Renault and Nissan with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV was in fact viable, as Ghosn insists? It’s clearly a flawed strategy in a global market suffering weak demand and a poor success rate for large-scale mergers. Already struggling with culture clashes with Renault, would that have left Nissan in better hands?

And a final question: Where did Ghosn’s world end and Nissan’s begin? As with the likes of General Electric Co.’s Jack Welch, long-ruling, dominating CEOs often end up operating in gray areas. Ghosn made it abundantly apparent at his press conference, whether he meant to or not, that there wasn’t a clear line. Versailles, c’est lui.

Studies have shown long tenures hurt companies because the longer CEOs reign, the more reliant they become on internal networks and information, losing sight of market conditions.

Nissan executives were surprised Ghosn wasn’t able to explain his alleged misdeeds. For Saikawa, Ghosn “could have just said it in Japan.” Before Nissan can make perhaps an existential case with investors, it needs to shed the baggage of Carlos Ghosn. It’s far heavier than the musical instrument case he supposedly escaped in.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
 

Deibiddo

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Yeah there aren't many people who think he was a saint (“Exec misuses corporate funds" is not the most surprising headline in Japan, let's be honest) and he may be guilty of something. However, the blatant discrepancies between his treatment and that of other Japanese execs caught doing the same or worse is what has shown Japan up. Why make an example of only him when they have been so many before? If someone has done something wrong they should be punished appropriately regardless of their ethnicity and so people can't sympathise with Nissan and the Japanese prosecutors if they have obvious double standards.

Most damage to Japan is done by Japanese people as only 'foreign influence' is rooted out - look at how the politician who took Chinese money (only a pathetic ¥1mln as well) compared to Abe et al. who have regularly got caught doing far worse. I can't be bothered reasoning with Japanese people sometimes because they just play the gaijin card on me and say I hate the country... okay, you can keep it I just don't care anymore
 

Lothor

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Buntaro - thanks! Not heard that for about 30 years!
 

Deibiddo

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It seems like opinion around the world is generally against Japan and a lot of people don't believe the Japanese prosecutors...

Does anyone else have any interesting videos? I'd quite like to hear some that criticise Ghosn, if there are any available
 

Buntaro

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...and say I hate the country...
If someone says you hate Japan because of your opinions on the Ghosn case, that person is a racist. Avoid that person accordingly.

There is such a thing as you being 'too nice'.
 

thomas

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It seems a lot of people stayed up all night last Wednesday:


Isn’t it alarming that even a Minister of Justice seems to be unable to grasp the basic principles of a fair trial?

One of Ghosn’s lawyers, Francois Zimeray, issued a statement Friday directed at Mori that denounced her remarks:

“Allow me to remind Mori that since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted here, in Paris, in 1948, the presumption of innocence, respect of dignity and rights of defense have been essential components of what constitute a fair trial,” the lawyer said.
And thanks @Deibiddo, Mrs Mori’s Twitter account is an interesting read.
 

Lothor

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It seems a lot of people stayed up all night last Wednesday:


Isn’t it alarming that even a Minister of Justice seems to be unable to grasp the basic principles of a fair trial?



And thanks @Deibiddo, Mrs Mori’s Twitter account is an interesting read.
Very revealing article. 'Slip of the tongue', my arse!
I enjoyed the interview with him on TV this morning. "Why did you only invite 2 or 3 Japanese reporters?' 'Because there was only space for 150, and the Japanese media report everything in exactly the same way anyway'. Touche!
 

Lothor

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This episode is causing some uncomfortable discussions around the Majestic dinner table.
Mrs Majestic thinks he's guilty as hell and escaping is proof of it while you have a certain regard for him for refusing to be a victim and shining a light on the Japanese justice system, regardless of his guilt or otherwise?
 

thomas

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Mrs Thomas has not the slightest sympathy for the man, but she realised something was wrong with the Japanese criminal justice system when he was summoned before court with a rope tethered around his waist.
 

Buntaro

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"In April 2019, over 1,000 Japanese professionals and lawyers wrote a letter calling to reform Japan’s legal system. The letter noted that criminal defendants aren’t allowed to contact family members (in Ghosn’s case, he could have no contact with his wife), and that most suspects in jail were “placed under constant surveillance.”"

"“Japan’s criminal justice practices have long been described as ‘hostage justice (hitojichi-shiho).’ The Code of Criminal Procedure of Japan allows suspects to be detained up to 23 days before indictment. The authorities interpret the code to oblige detainees to face interrogations throughout this period. ... It is not uncommon for suspects to be yelled at from close range. Furthermore, suspects are not allowed to have lawyers present during questioning,” the letter noted."

 

Majestic

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Mrs Majestic thinks he's guilty as hell and escaping is proof of it while you have a certain regard for him for refusing to be a victim and shining a light on the Japanese justice system, regardless of his guilt or otherwise?
Yes, that is about right.
 

Mark of Zorro

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Something that majorly burns the hell out of me is the lack of information and discussion of what his alleged crime was, you know, the core of all this mess. All I have heard is that he had Nissan cover his wedding party years ago as a business expense. So basically he took a few cookies out of Nissan's giant cookie jar. This is standard practice for these CEO sociopaths, is it not? So why single out Ghosn? And after what? 7 years??

Should he be punished? Yes, of course. But how much? LESS than he already has been punished I should think. He should have been punished. Instead he was terrorized. No one should be terrorized if they can be locked away.

Was he right to run? Right as rain. They already punished him more than he deserved, assuming he is guilty and I got his crime right. But the court and prosecutors (read persecutors) massively violated his human and natural rights. This is what so many Japanese don't seem to get. Ghosn is a minor white collar criminal. The court and prosecutors are major human, civil and constitutional rights abusers; the freaking mafia officialized. Tyrants and dictators....kidnappers and soul killers....and since way before Ghosn... or even Iwao Hakamada who was freed from death row after 45 years. You can't get bail for months, you cannot talk to your lawyer much, you cannot contact your family....how the HELL are you supposed to prove your innocence or gather evidence from a god damned jail cell?? And all the while the prosecutors and police are free to grab whatever the hell they can...maybe even shred what they don't like.

Its hard to tell what goes on in Japanese minds with this blind trust of the court system. But it seems to me there are wolves in every society and in Japan the wolves become judges, prosecutors and prison guards. And every society throws some people to the wolves to keep the wolves happy and doing minimal damage to society, and its always easier to throw a foreigner to them. (See border crossing kids in cages in America). And we all have some system like this and people don't question it much if at all. They all refuse to question it. Its inconvenient cause it just means some other sham system will need to be set up and the wolves moved there.

Also I see this as part of the matriarchal harmonious society Japan has. Guilt or innocence does not matter much in such a society. You get accused, you just own it and take whatever punishment you get without complaint. You don't rock the boat. In fact, what you do is apologize and beg for mercy. So damned feminine and almost as disgusting as the male tendency to go war. Ghosn didn't do that. So they hate him. Of course we see this same feminine thinking when a man is accused of rape in America....GUILTY until proven more GUILTY!

Anyway, Carlos go, Carlos went, Carlos Ghosn! A little joke for you English teachers to tell you students!
 

Lothor

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...throws some people to the wolves to keep the wolves happy...and the sheep scared.

First time I've heard Japanese society described as matriarchal rather than patriarchal though. Care to expand on that?
 

johnnyG

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Sorry to dredge this thread up, but wanted to point out that Ghosn's technique had been used long ago:


(no idea if that's why, to this day, boxes are called boxes.... :unsure: )
 

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