Carlos Ghosn went on the attack against Japan’s criminal justice system less than two weeks after becoming the world’s most famous fugitive following his daring escape to Lebanon.
At a news conference here on Wednesday, Ghosn unleashed a point-by-point attack on the validity of the investigation that culminated in his arrest in Japan for alleged financial crimes.
Wearing a blue suit and red tie and speaking defiantly, Ghosn said he doubted he would get a fair trial if he had remained in Japan. He said he fled to Lebanon to clear his name.
“You are going to die in Japan or you are going to have to get out,” he told reporters crowded into Lebanon’s seaside Beirut press syndicate.
Ghosn said he had been treated “brutally and ruthlessly” by Japanese prosecutors, who threatened to take action against his family if he did not confess to their accusations.
“I was brutally taken from my world as I knew it,” the former head of Nissan and Renault said. “I was ripped from my family, my friends, from my communities, and from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.”
The news conference was Ghosn’s first public appearance since he jumped bail in Japan and escaped to his childhood home of Lebanon. Ghosn spoke for more than an hour before taking a break ahead of a question-and-answer session.
The former executive blasted the Japanese justice system, with its 99 per cent conviction rate, as a rigged system in which guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.
“I felt that I was a hostage in a country that I had served for 17 years,” he said. “For 17 years I was considered a role model in Japan. All of a sudden prosecutors in Japan [characterized me as a] ‘cold, greedy, dictator.’ It’s wrong. I like Japan. I like the people of Japan. Why Japan is repaying me with evil, for the good that I did to the country, I don’t understand.”
Ghosn, 65, is now an international fugitive after fleeing Japan, where he is indicted on four counts of financial misconduct during his time at Nissan. Ghosn’s trial was to begin as early as this spring.
Ghosn said he was ready to retire before June 2018 but was asked to continue. “I, unfortunately, accepted this offer.”
He said he was working to integrate Renault and Nissan while respecting the autonomy of both. But he said there was mistrust. “Some of my Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan was to get rid of me,” he said.

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