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Carlos Ghosn: How I escaped Japan (bbc.co.uk)
203 points by phpnode 66 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 224 comments

The most curious thing: Why were none of the Japanese executives arrested? Not even briefly for questioning? Ghosn was held for hundreds of days, Kelly is currently undergoing trial.

It seems to me that this was a corporate coup with assistance from the prosecutors office. The plan was Ghosn would be arrested, admit guilt straightaway, possibly under some questionable interrogation[1] and then get a fine/suspended sentence. Nissan could be free from Ghosn with a minimum of fuss.

Of course, it didn't go down that way, but Ghosn fleeing the country was probably the next best thing. Public opinion in Japan generally seems to be "Why would you run if you are innocent?" and the case is forgotten.

It will be interesting to see if any revelations come out in Kelly's trial (currently underway).

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/world/asia/11japan.html

> It seems to me that this was a corporate coup with assistance from the prosecutors office.

You couldn't be more right here. Been working with japanese companies for years so those things do not come as a surprise.

There is a lot of corporate fraud happening in Japan, particularly at large corporations. No way Ghosn was innocent - however at the same time all japanese at Nissan board were well aware of what was happening and benefitted from that. Were they arrested you may ask? Certainly no. They took the power and if you ask me, I can't be more bearish on Nissan's future.

They don't because in Japan they're not as worried about their own citizen leaving the country.

When you get caught stealing something in Japan they will take you into custody for over 20 days, no bail, no nothing. I believe it's 10 days and then 1 or 2 extensions(but I don't remember the details). This only applies to foreigners.

Basically the idea is that the only real punishment they can give you is whatever they can give you for breaking the rules before you flee the country.

But yeah, there's obviously also an aspect of racism there.

Here is a short interview with a Japanese lawyer on how the law screws over foreigners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ZLGqL1FMo

After watching this, i could understand why Carlos Ghosn did what he did; it is an abhorrent "Hostage Justice" system.

That's an interesting interview. Too bad the editing of the video leaves a bit to be desired: it seems to cut out parts and skip in such a way that it's hard to tell what exactly the lawyer originally said, and how much the editing affects how you understand what was said.

The editing is probably benign in intention, but I would much rather hear a longer and perhaps more convoluted explanation than something cut-for-convenience where I'm not sure if I'm hearing and understanding the interviewee's answers the way he said them.

I am not sure what you are driving at. Of course we all can do with a detailed interview with all nuances explained but obviously given the sensitive subject matter, it would be almost impossible to do/get right. Given that the interviewer is not a professional journalist/investigator (i.e. any editorial limitations, legal or otherwise, he might have been forced to work with), he has done a commendable job of highlighting a very important problem in Japan and that too from a authentic Japanese source who speaks good English. I did not find any problems in comprehending the main points.

Every tourist to Japan who might have a tendency to "let down their hair" needs to watch this video.

I'm not really driving at anything. I'd just feel more comfortable with less cutting when discussing a matter where details could be important.

I didn't really find any problems with comprehension either. I'm just not sure if the understanding I get is affected by editing.

I appreciate the effort to explain the system in general, and I suppose also from a foreigner or tourist point of view. I have been to Japan twice, and while I'm not the type that's likely to get into trouble, it's always good to understand the culture you're visiting.

It seemed pretty clear the Nissan part of the Renault-Nissan alliance didn't like the changes Ghosn had made because he made cuts to certain parts of the company that were underperforming. Even though Ghosn's reforms were successful, the Nissan side of the alliance was slighted and seems to have ultimately schemed to set up Ghosn and push him out.

Japan has >99% conviction rate if you get arrested. That's precisely why you would run if you're innocent. Although it's more complicated.


That's an often-quoted statistic that really doesn't mean what it looks like. The main reason their conviction rate is so high is not that they have some bloodthirsty kangaroo court, but rather that charges are very likely to be dropped by the prosecution if there isn't compelling evidence certain to end in conviction, rather than the prosecution risking losing the case.

I don't believe that is the main reason. Forced confessions without a lawyer present is a huge factor in Japan's conviction rate.

> In Japan this occurs in the context of forced confessions during detention of suspects whose lawyers are not present during interrogation. In the United States a similar danger is present in plea bargaining. There is a well-known “trial penalty” — a defendant who spurns the prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain will generally receive a significantly higher sentence if found guilty at trial. Both systems struggle to provide oversight of confessions and plea bargains, respectively, by means of judicial hearings.

This very article says the same, if read past the headline:

> Japan’s often-cited conviction rate of over 99 percent is a percentage of all prosecuted cases, not just contested cases. It is eye-catching, but misleading, since it counts as convictions those cases in which defendants pleaded guilty. If the U.S. conviction rate were calculated in a similar manner it would also exceed 99 percent since so few cases are contested at trial (in FY 2018 only 320 of the total number of 79,704 federal defendants were acquitted at trial).

I was curious why I kept seeing this article coming up as an attack on Japan when the text clearly doesn't come across that way & yep, this link is the first google result for "japan 99% conviction rate"

The thing I can't believe is that Japan's trading partners like USA, Canada, UK, Europe etc. haven't said boo about this outrageous miscarriage of justice in which the Japanese government has been complicit. As for as I know not one government has spoken out publicly.

Carlos Ghosn is a small potato. His only connection to those countries you listed is France. Does he have connections with French politicians? Probably not.

He was the CEO and creator of Renault-Nissan. For sure he's politically connected in France.

Renault is partly owned by the French state though.

Justice is now dependent on having connections to politicians? In the great social paradise of EU? Good grief

You cannot assume the fellow is innocent. A government, particularly an ally, cannot be reckless with accusations.

What seems much more likely to me is that the Japanese government and the Japanese management of Nissan felt they had a right to controlling ownership of Nissan after that had been purchased and turned around by Ghosn. In the circumstance, if that's what they wanted, then they should have bought it back rather than setting up a kangaroo court.

I suspect from now on companies with subsidiaries in Japan will be sure their top level meetings don't take place on Japanese soil.

> What seems much more likely to me...

Maybe. All our information comes from journalists, who occasionally gets things wrong. After that, it's down to belief. We haven't seen the evidence nor any counter evidence. All we have is a biased article.

For me, leaving aside all of the dramatic details, we have the word of a Lebanese business man and his supporters versus the word of the Japanese government and the board of Nissan. Perhaps naive, but I'd tend to believe the Japanese government over some rando. It's not a banana republic over there. The government does not habitually collude with natives to squeeze foreigners. It's not like the UAE. Agreed, that's not evidence of anything, but as long as we're just talking "what seems much more likely" - what seems much more likely to me, is that the guy embezzled, got caught, had to flee the country and - unlike so many of these dreary, sordid little tales - he caught the ear of a sympathetic journalist to spin a sympathetic tale of escape and adventure.

Well, he will be tried in absentio if that's allowed in Japan, and the evidence against him will be entered into the public record. Then maybe we'll each have a better idea of what we're talking about.

To top it off Japan extradited US citizens for doing something not considered a crime in Japan! In what world does that happen?

That’s the nature of extradition.

Edit: Why the downvotes?

“If requested by the charging state, US states and territories must extradite anyone charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or even petty offense in another US state or territory, even if the offense is not a crime in the custodial state.”

As far as I’m aware this holds true of international extradition too. That’s kinda the whole point—you can’t escape justice by picking a destination that doesn’t prosecute your crime.

I did not downvote, but I suspect they're from your attempt to compare to domestic American law. While tempting, it's a misleading comparison here. US states do that because the US constitution has the "full faith and credit" clause requiring them to acknowledge and cooperate with the legal processes of other states. There is no equivalent internationally.

Dual criminality is a standard provision in most (nearly all? all?) extradition treaties. Canada's treaty with the USA for example says:

> Persons shall be delivered up according to the provisions of this Treaty for any of the offenses listed in the Schedule annexed to this Treaty, which is an integral part of this Treaty, provided these offenses are punishable by the laws of both Contracting Parties by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year.

and the US-Japan treaty says:

> Extradition shall be granted in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty for any offense listed in the Schedule annexed to this Treaty, which forms an integral part of this Treaty, when such an offense is punishable by the laws of both Contracting Parties by death, by life imprisonment, or by deprivation of liberty for a period of more than one year [...]

> US states do that because the US constitution has the "full faith and credit" clause

No, they do it because of the more specific Extradition Clause, not the Full Faith and Credit clause.


I Google and that was the first thing that came up, probably because I’m in the US. If international extradition language was easier to pull up on mobile I would have used that.

I wasn’t purposefully making the comparison but rather attempting to demonstrate that extradition is meant to follow the laws of the place where the crime took place rather than the place where the fugitive resides.

Unlike the US domestic situation, sovereign states are necessarily allowed some leeway in choosing which requests to honor. However it was my understanding that it is generally not a requirement that the alleged crime be illegal on both jurisdictions. Thank you for providing evidence to the contrary.

IMO it doesn't deserve a downvote, just clarification. What the post is saying is absolutely true. It's a fact.

I upvoted it.

Countries can still extradite in this scenario as a "favour" but there is typical a strong legal case against extradition if the charged crime is not a crime in the legal jurisdiction. (see current issue with Meng Wanzhou the Huawei CFO fighting extradition from Canada to USA)

>> That’s kinda the whole point—you can’t escape justice by picking a destination that doesn’t prosecute your crime.

You most certain can; combine poor relations with the country requesting extradition and you can avoid "justice" indefinitely.

> That's the nature of extradition

Generally, no, its not.

> As far as I’m aware this holds true of international extradition too.

It is not, it is a feature of US domestic law from the extradition clause of the US Constitution, which reflects the much closer association of US states than foreign nations.

Dual criminality is the normal standard in extradition treaties (including the US-Japan one), though nothing (except perhaps individual rights under local law) prevents a state from extraditing persons when not required by a treaty, or deporting foreigners back to their country of nationality with similar effect.

> The most curious thing: Why were none of the Japanese executives arrested? Not even briefly for questioning? Ghosn was held for hundreds of days, Kelly is currently undergoing trial.

For the same reason the company was able to put out a press release minutes after his arrest.

Because only Ghosn (considered to) did embezzlement?

The embezzlement charges didn't seem to make much sense when I took a look. Taken literally, sure, maybe he embezzled. But this is a guy who basically set his own salary at whatever number he wanted every year for 20 years. And apparently there was a culture at the top of the company where the executives were able to spend quite freely using company money. If you are able to simply legally pay yourself more if you want to, the only reason you wouldn't is that you are under the impression you can simply use company money for personal use anyway. What's the difference, really? It's almost just an accounting issue; clarification for investors.

I read the articles a long time ago so I may be off by a bit but I recall that when I did the math Carlos Ghosn had a personal net worth of at least ~$115 million _at the time he was accused of embezzling just a few million dollars._ It's like a millionaire stealing $20,000. Certainly possible, but more likely to be some sort of misunderstanding given the circumstances.

I don't expect this to be a popular comment. But the charges never made much sense to me. And normally in cases of corporate embezzlement there isn't such a compelling alternate narrative/conspiracy to explain what happened.

I read it the same way. You said it better than I could.

It seems like an easy way to remove a Gaijin from a Nipponjin-position. Or maybe he made some other execs unhappy behind the scenes.

This is Fair. For GP:

> Why were none of the Japanese executives arrested?

Then zero arrest is expected, or you have any suspicion?

Saikawa, the CEO of Nissan at the time of Ghosn's arrest, has admitted to being overpaid.


Martha Stewart went to prison for insider trading to avoid a loss of $45,673. She was worth in the hundreds of millions at the time.

Martha Stewart went to prison for lying to federal investigators and obstruction of justice, not for insider trading. The "insider trading" (not actually a crime; the actual criminal thing in such cases tends to be "securities fraud") charges were variously dropped or dismissed by the court, depending on the charge.

So she was actually innocent (in the legal system sense, at least) of the crime she was initially accused of, but guilty of obstructing the investigation.

Similar to the Ghosn story, actually: he's guilty of jumping bail and whatnot no matter what's going on with the substantive issue of embezzlement.

> Martha Stewart went to prison for lying to federal investigators

Kids, if the FBI comes a-knocking, shut. Your. Fat. Fucking. Mouth.

Ask for a lawyer and the shut the fuck up. It doesn't matter if you're innocent.

If you talk to the Feds and make a mistake, you can be charged with a felony for lying to to federal agents. Did you talk to that guy on Saturday, May 20th, 2017? Who knows? The Feds do, and if you don't remember precise details, you got yourself a felony charge. Felony. Even if you are innocent of anything else, you lied to a Federal investigator.

Shut up. Ask for a lawyer. And shut up.

(I'm OK with the downvotes, if this helps someone remember to shut up and get a lawyer)


It's always shut the fuck up Friday. 7 days a week.

I advice you to reform the US federal criminal law.

It's a glaring injustice that a completely random innocent person can be prosecuted for saying "I don't know"

Where do you live? I can guarantee your state security/police operates in a roughly comparable manner.

I live in places where light doesn't shine not of really my own choosing, because the Western establishment is really determined on destroying its business, and industry.

It's a shame that people who do have an option to not to live in hellholes, and having functioning democracy can't lift a finger to do something about that instead of doing nothing, while rambling on internet forums.

That's a few decimal places down from the point. Stewart was sentenced to five months of prison for what was a $45,673 crime which she then later had to repay with interest. She was worth 100s of millions at the time.

The point was that it's not impossible, merely because Ghosn was rich, that he didn't do the deed.

> Why were none of the Japanese executives arrested?

For what? A criminal is claiming his innocence, classical story, people do that all the time. Without further proof, why should anyone bother people who are probably innocent, and more important: powerful. That could seriously harm your career if you do something to lightly. Who would do that in this situation?

The other problem is the pretty strict chain of responsability people in Japan maintain. Especially in the legal system, there is a very strong and infamous believe that people do not fail in their work, and questioning it is a serious matter. This is a long known problem with japan, but it's quite hard to fix this. So even in a regular harmless case, hardly anyone would do something to insult someone else by questioning the result of their work.

> why should anyone bother people who are probably innocent, and more important: powerful

Oh you sweet summer child. Why, indeed? Why would anyone bother an innocent, powerful person?

The whole story is a bit hard to untangle, but I wouldn't be surprised if both that he literally saved Nissan and funneled money off to personal projects is true. He strikes me as the type of executive who believe he can do what he wants as long as he shows result.

It was rumoured that the house he lives in in Beirut actually belongs to Nissan and they've been trying to get him kicked out, but with little success.

Nissan may have been saved, but it came at the cost of their reputation. According to my auto mechanic friends Nissan once ranked up there with Toyota and Honda for reliability, but their quality plummeted after the Renault deal.

> According to my auto mechanic friends Nissan once ranked up there with Toyota and Honda for reliability, but their quality plummeted after the Renault deal.

Nissan went to crap when they took a controlling stake in JATCO and started using those god awful CVT's in everything, and then stopped putting any effort into their sports cars to keep them competitive enough to lure enthusiasts to their brand. I owned a GT-R for several years and it was a great car, but it's going on 13 years of the same generation and the 370z is hardly any different from the 350z that first came out in 2002. I could rant for hours, I used to love Nissan. I'm hoping the 400z will turn things around for them in the eyes of enthusiasts if it's priced reasonably.

Exactly this! Ghosn saved Nissan by focusing on optimizing and reducing costs and while that must've helped a lot in the short/medium term it came at a cost in the long term. It's as if Nissan had gotten stuck in the last decade of tech for cars. They went from competing with Porsche and having popular electric cars to basically being an afterthought in the market.

To be fair R35 GT-R was Ghosn's project.

Competing with Porsche? Can you expound on that?

The R35 GT-R took down everything from Ferraris to Porsches and Lamborghinis when it first came out, both in straight line speed and handling on the track.

Results at 3m10s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDP7Pty8Qnw&t=130s

Probably a bit of acting, but Jeremy Clarkson had to be carted off the track while driving one because he injured his neck on a particularly tight corner.


Let me share a gem:


do activate the subtitles!

Best MOTORing January 2011. ""Super Sports Battle in Sugo""


Drivers:Keiichi ""DK"" Tsuchiya Naomi Hattori, Takayuki Kinoshita, Seiji Ara, Tetsuya Tanaka

And ten years later a 130 grand car (would that be the cheapest in the field back in 2010? Was the corvette or lotus the cheapest in that clip?) would eviscerate them by... two seconds?

Even setting aside reliability, the Nissan CVT is so awful to drive. The power delivery in every car I drove with one (always a rental) is incredibly mushy and the constant-RPM engine drone grates like a fly buzz.

Yea, they are absolutely the worst. They gave a Murano loaner while my GT-R was getting its transmission replaced and that piece of junk sat in my driveway and didn't move for a month. High performance, low performance, they offer some terrible transmissions across their entire lineup! As much as I want to defend the GR6 because it is phenomenal when it works and the stock housing can take an insane amount of power compared to other DCT's, mine died after only 10k miles and it was a 2015 model, which was supposed to be a non-issue after like 2011 from the launch control updates.

Yes, CVTs are crap. Every time I consider purchasing a car (used or new) I pass over the CVT offerings — which include most (all?) of Nissan's line up.

I won't disagree tha CVTs are crap, but they were an attempt for better gas mileage / carbon emissions reduction.

I have heard they are improving, but by the time they figure them out the ICE car will probably be utterly obsolete.

It belongs to Nissan in that Nissan alleges Ghosn bought the place with money he stole from them.

I used to live just down the street from the place. Lovely neighborhood.

I don’t know much about cars, but I understood Renault’s quality reputation enough to understand the acquisition was a disaster from the get-go. So I’m not sure I can agree with your premises.

While trying to understand how Renault managed to acquire so much of Nissan I was reminded that Nissan was nearly bankrupt in 1999, there's even a springer document about this period https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https:/...

>For more than a year, Mr Ghosn spent long periods in custody or was held under house arrest in Tokyo after being bailed. It was not clear when a trial would take place - the fear was it could take years - and Mr Ghosn faced a further 15 years in prison if convicted, in a country which has a 99.4% conviction rate.

>It was during a period of house arrest, when Mr Ghosn was told he would not be allowed to have any contact with his wife, Carole, that he decided to find a way out.

Holy cow - that's an insane system for a 'modern western democracy'...

99.4 percent conviction rate? That sounds very suspicious to me.

Btw, strange that Japan is called as 'Western' - perhaps the better term is OECD? Same goes for NZ, I guess.

> 99.4 percent conviction rate?

There's commonly two cited reasons for that:

- Prosecutors won't even charge you unless they're completely convinced they've got an open-and-shut case.

- Because of this, judges are likely to assume you are guilty if charged.

Additionally, wrongful convictions are extremely embarrassing for judges, prosecutors, and their offices. For this reason they are unlikely to admit mistakes and other judges are under extreme pressure not to overturn convictions.

???? NZ is a first world British colony, same as USA, Canada and the closest neighbour, geographically and culturally, Australia.

I think parents comment is just about the fact that Japan and NZ are at the very East side of European maps, which is why it might be surprising to tag them Western.

Yeah, but geographically it is quite east of even Japan.

Or west of the US.

An article linked in another comment in this thread[1] implies that this is because Japanese prosecutors pressure everyone, even innocents, into confession[2].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27827906 [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/world/asia/11japan.html

The general rule in Japan is that if the police say you did it, the jury either agree or they're calling the police liars, and that would be a huge a loss of face for the police, and no one wants that.

If you calculate the US conviction rate in the same way, it is also around 99%.

Now I also find that "insane" but it isn't out of line with other "modern western democracies"

Not really. Federal prosecutors have a 98 percent conviction rate. Combined with long sentences means a lot of ppl just plead guilty even if innocent

So, the justice system in Japan enforces additional restrictions after a person is out on bail ?

He couldn't meet his wife seems like an unreasonable condition for someone out on bail. Also, is the justice system in Japan so backed up that he would have to wait years for it go to trial ?

If you ever thought the American justice system is bad, look into the Japanese one. The whole system is designed to make you confess and apologize. They will literally lie to you and tell you it will all go away if you sign the confession paperwork. You dont get a lawyer while they do this, and they get to keep you for quite a bit of time before you get a lawyer.

They also dont do trial by jury, but inquisitorial judges who you have to prove your innocence too. The judges their dont like you making them go to trial, so good luck proving your case, after all you should have confessed already.

Also Japanese conditions in their detention systems makes the American system look down right palatial. The whole system is designed to punish even moreso than the American system.

Not trying to handwave away issues with the Japanese system, but scale seems relevant here.

Japan: 40 incarcerated per 100k population [1] USA: 655 incarcerated per 100k population [2]

[1] https://www.prisonstudies.org/country/japan [2] https://www.prisonstudies.org/country/united-states-america

That makes sense the market is more competitive in USA so they provide better service to the customers.

What's the murder rate per country? What's the rate of assault? Et cetera, et cetera

That might even show that over time the Japanese system does a better job deterring crime

The way I've heard it, they don't bother arresting people who are not almost definitely guilty. After all, if someone is proven innocent, that's a black mark on the judge, the prosecution and the entire police department.

How many Japanese Americans are incarcerated per capita in the US?

I don't know why the downvotes, this is the correct perspective. You need to take the base rate of criminality into account, and comparing Japanese in Japan to Japanese in America isn't unreasonable.

You could also look at the rate of crimes per capita in each country. For instance, murders per capita: 4.96 in the U.S. vs 0.26 in Japan [0]. If we take this to represent base-rate criminality in that population, then we have a 19:1 US:Japan murder ratio, with only a 16:1 US: Japan incarceration ratio. Japan incarcerates more per unit murder.

Of course this is a toy model, it's all a big feedback loop, etc., but I hope it serves to illustrate the point.

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intention...

> You need to take the base rate of criminality into account

So is this the kind of thing you measure with calipers, or…

...there are large academic fields where people spend entire careers doing exactly this? The statistics are not hard to come by.

You're claiming Japanese in America are representative of Japanese in Japan which is not the case. It's straight up racist too.

I'm making the point that the base rate of criminality needs to be taken into account if you want to compare incarceration rates. For many different reasons people in one society might commit more crime than people in another society.

Though I do not use the example myself, preferring the murder rate example, the parent's suggestion is a reasonable way to control for this inter-society difference. I would bet that Japanese in the U.S. evince rates of criminality more similar to those of Japanese in Japan than to the rest of American society. It's an empirical question; whether merely asking the question is racist or not given your particular sentiments about what's racist is beside the point.

> I would bet that Japanese in the U.S. evince rates of criminality more similar to those of Japanese in Japan than to the rest of American society

What makes you believe that? If true, what might cause that to be the case?

I've realized we're probably confused about whether we're talking about Japanese in America vs. Japanese-Americans. I was talking about Japanese in America (the article is about a foreigner in Japan), but I'd make roughly the same claims in either case. Empirically, I would bet that both Japanese in America and Japanese-Americans both show rates of criminality more similar to Japan's than to the remainder of the U.S. population's. In the case of Japanese-Americans, I'd bet it's higher than Japan's. I haven't looked any numbers up or attempted to figure it out in detail.

As for why, there are a few reasons. One interesting one is selection effects (immigrants to a new country are not a random sample of the old country's population). There is culture, of course, probably the biggest factor, as well as other inheritances (material goods / wealth, genes, disease burden...).

I think listing genes is probably crossing the line. It's not like there is a gene for crime that some category of people would have more or less...

I'm genuinely curious to know how you think about that line. What is the transgression here in your mind? Merely mentioning that genes affect behavior is not allowed (even though it's true, or maybe it doesn't matter if it's true), or you actually believe the claim "genes affect behavior within the human species" is false?

I agree with you that we can't tell from a single gene whether someone is likely to be a criminal or not. I'd like you to consider this example, where hopefully I only use premises you already believe:

Some people are predisposed to becoming addicted to drugs. We can make better-than-chance bets about who these people are based on their genomes. We also know that people who are addicted to drugs are more likely to be on the wrong side of the law (and, sadly, are often by definition on the wrong side of the law). So, we conclude that, given someone's genome, we can make better-than-chance bets about that person's likelihood of being on the wrong side of the law.

It's a simplistic example, but hopefully that helps get the idea across. Doing this sort of thing isn't super practical right now, but it will be soon! [oh boy.]

Genes are certainly affecting the behavior somehow. That doesn't mean they are relevant. Cultural and educational factors have certainly a much bigger impact on behavior than any gene related effects.

Example of flawed reasoning similar to yours: genes have probably an impact on the way we speak (it's impacting the shape of our tongue somehow, etc etc). So maybe the French have their accent due to some genetic factors, and we could predict someone's accent looking at their genes. Well it turns out in practice, if you have "French genes" and are born and raised in a US environment, you'll have an American accent indistinguishable from someone with "US genes"

The same goes with criminal behavior.

If genes are affecting behavior [I assume you mean variation within the species], then why wouldn't they be relevant? Relevant to what?

I agree culture is the biggie (education is part of culture).

Your example gets at a correlation that can be used to make good predictions. Better-than-chance bets. The example I gave with drug addiction supposes the reader already believes that genes have a causal relationship with drug addiction. That is, a propensity to be, say, an alcoholic can be in your genome and not a result of environmental factors.

Given this logic if America had a policy of throwing everyone with blond hair in jail for "hair crimes" you would conclude it is a fairer system than Japan's if Japanese-Americans had a lower incarceration rate than Japanese people in Japan.

That's some heroic effort in defense of America's high incarceration rate.

...I didn't make any claims at all about fairness. What?

Further up on this thread someone wrote "If you ever thought the American justice system is bad...".

Someone else wrote wrote " Not trying to handwave away issues with the Japanese system, but scale seems relevant here. Japan: 40 incarcerated per 100k population [1] USA: 655 incarcerated per 100k population [2]"

So I read your post in that context. The conversation seemed to me to be about whether the American or Japanese justice system is "bad". Fairness would seem to be an aspect of "good" or "bad"... if you weren't trying to argue the American justice system was "good" I've lost the context of what you were trying to say.

I appreciate the explanation! I could've been clearer.

I think most people know that Asians in the US commit less crime than other races. As for why, there are probably cultural reasons.

Or rather economic reasons, the difference between the median income for Asian Americans is about the same as the difference between white people and African Americans.

Or both! Or a bunch of other stuff too!

Actually the OP asked the question. By assuming a particular answer, you are providing the racism.

No, it is the question that is racist. The assumption that because of your ethnicity, you would have some kind of specific level of criminality. That is extremely racist.

You're assuming a causal relationship when the claim is correlational. The claim is not that because of a person's ethnicity that person will commit crimes at a certain rate, the claim is that you can make a good guess about criminality based on ethnicity. That is to say, there is a correlation. Which is unambiguously true--just look up the numbers. Only takes a moment.

In either case, whether it's racist or not is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

> the claim is that you can make a good guess about criminality based on ethnicity

Yes. That is the claim that is racist.

It is empirically true. It is, of course, possible for things to be both true and racist, for some definition of racist.

The fact that you just stop the train of thought there is the racist part.

What would be the non-racist thing to do?

Actually look for the real factors beyond "ethnicity".

My honest read here, and I really wish to emphasize that this is honest feedback and not an attempt to put you down, is that you don't have a solid grasp of causation vs. correlation.

I appreciate you engaging. It's fun and important to talk about stuff like this.

My point is literally that you need to think harder about causation vs. correlation here.

Criminality might correlate with ethnicity. Assuming this means causality is the thing that is racist.

How is this relevant to anything

The implication of pointing out the US' high incarceration rate is that the US justice system and society are particularly malevolent.

This point was used to defend Japan's justice system as being far more benign than the US.

However, Japan's justice system may in fact be far more unforgiving that the US' if Americans are, in general, more likely to commit crime. Which is perfectly fair point to make (although inconclusive for various reasons).

If (for whatever reason) Americans are more likely to commit more crimes, they are, all else being equal, more likely to be in jail.

Of course many things can be true at the same time. Japan can have a brutal justice system and have a very docile, law abiding population. Maybe the brutality caused them to be docile. Or, America can have an abusive justice system, and a population that needs to be more incarcerated than others.

Either way, the criminality of the Japanese is a relevant factor if America's incarceration rate is made relevant

Yeah, but the parent comment is talking about Japanese Americans, not Japanese in America. The experience of Japanese Americans is not related to Japanese people (especially if raised in Japan).

Weren't we comparing the rate of incarceration of the Japanese in Japan vs the US?

Japanese Americans are a group that has a sizable population of people who have lived their entire lives in the US. If you think that they would be more likely to behave similarly to people who have spent their whole lives in Japan, the burden of proof is on you, because that certainly is not a mainstream view.

1) Confusion between Japanese in America and Japanese-Americans

2) "More likely to behave similarly" is a considerably wider net than just crime rates

3) I think the mainstream view is that East Asians of all stripes commit considerably less crime than average. It's certainly true of violent crime, which is something I've looked in to.

These are Americans, not Japanese.

That is an interesting way to slice it.

Even if you have the mental strength to resist interrogation and not make a false confession, it might be in your interest to confess to speed things up.

If you no-showed at work for 3 weeks, would you lose your job? But if you confess, you could be out today.

Here is an account of being arrested and detained in Japan[1]. It's worth a read, especially given the ending.

[1] https://nymag.com/vindicated/2016/11/truth-lies-and-videotap...

So she was falsely accused, detained for a week, and released with apparently no consequences? That's not great, but it's hardly a uniquely Japanese horror story either.

For comparison, back in the Land of the Free, here's a kid in New York who was jailed for three years on Rikers Island for a similar false accusation of theft:


Yes, but that case is egregious by American standards, while the woman's case is everyday occurrence in Japan.

_Is_ that case egregious by American standards?

The 3 years might be (though I'm not convinced for some jurisdictions), but the overall shape of the case is, I think, depressingly common in the US...

I mean, the whole argument is based on two anecdotes, which show that both systems can be excessively unfair. We'd need at least some numbers to talk about "everyday occurrences" or not.

Previously on HN: Prison in Japan (2017) (gaijinass.com)


> They also dont do trial by jury, but inquisitorial judges who you have to prove your innocence too.

Inquisitorial systems are pretty common among civil law countries e.g. much of Europe, and not intrinsically better or worse than the adversarial system usually seen in common law countries -- indeed they are sometimes used by the latter for specific purposes like summary offences and coronial inquests.

":They also dont do trial by jury, but inquisitorial judges who you have to prove your innocence too. "

Didn't America set up their system after the peace treaty? They literally wrote the constitution, no?

We can agree they’re both fucked up in their own specific ways, along with many other systems.

We can hold hands at the bottom of the pit, no need for a winner.

> litteraly lie to you

BTW in a lot of countries they are basically immune to perjury, so this is just par for course

There are hundreds of countries on this planet. Are you sure U.S. and JP are at the bottom?

I agree it was a stupid thing to say...sorry

>During an edition of BBC's Timewatch program, an eyewitness described the carnage in Cell Block 4. They saw an inmate held up in front of a window; he was being tortured by using a blowtorch on his face and eyes until his head exploded. Another story was about Mario Urioste, who was jailed for shoplifting. He was originally placed by officers in a violent unit where he was gang-raped by seven inmates. Mario had filed a lawsuit against his rapists, so prison officials had housed him in Cell Block 4 for his own protection. Urioste was one of the targets for revenge. His body was found hanged, with his throat cut and his dismembered genitals stuffed into his mouth.

>Men were killed with piping, work tools, and crude homemade knives called shanks. One man was partially decapitated after being thrown over the second-tier balcony with a noose around his neck. The corpse was then dragged down and hacked up. A fire had been set in the gymnasium to burn a pile of corpses, but it had gotten out of control and burned through the roof. Besides the fire that had been set in the Psychology Wing, a fire was also set in the Protestant Chapel. The Protestant Chaplain had been nicknamed "Ax Handle" for his participation in the Night of the Ax Handles four years earlier. The Catholic Chapel next door was left untouched. Situated across the hall from the main control center, the prison library also was only touched by smoke. A third fire had been set in the records office, burning all records that could have been used as evidence related to the prisoners' civil rights claims in the Duran Consent Decree.

I think the country that has a justice system where being blowtorched until your brain explodes is a possible consequence of detention compares unfavorably to the country that has zero prison riots. It's also worth noting that the Human Rights Watch report on prison conditions in Japan contains zero mentions of the word "rape"—let alone "gang rape". Is it so hard to admit that they have to be doing something right?

Put yourselves in the shoes of a Japanese citizen—what could possibly make you look at American prison conditions and think "wow, I wish we had that instead", riots, gang rape, drugs, and all? What aspects of Japanese justice are so intolerable that they make all "palatial" by comparison? It's true that Japanese guards are strict—are Supermax guards so much nicer?

I think the country that has the highest incarceration in the world could learn something from the country that enjoys the lowest incarceration rate in the developed world. Whether it's civilization arrogance or some pathological aversion to discipline, I don't know—but it seems bizarre to me that a prison system where you could end up with a mouthful of your own severed genitals could serve as a model to anyone.

As for confessions, here's another example of the superior American way.

>Several hours into the interrogation, Scott told the detectives he thought he needed a lawyer, an attempt to invoke his constitutional right to have an attorney present during questioning. But APD detectives testified last week they believed Scott was only thinking about asking for a lawyer—the same response they gave at Springsteen's trial last summer. When Springsteen asked about a lawyer during his interrogation, detectives left the room. When they returned, they promptly changed the subject.

>And in the Scott interrogation's most infamous moment, Detective Merrill brought a revolver into the interrogation room to "help" Scott remember what he might've done that night at the yogurt shop through some "role playing." Gun in hand, Merrill walked around, then stood behind Scott and jabbed him in the head with what appeared to be the barrel of the gun. Merrill testified that it wasn't the gun but his finger. Nonetheless, the few seconds of video are startling. While the state could argue that the moment occurred well into the confession and couldn't have affected previous admissions, what does it take to render a confession false?

> So, the justice system in Japan enforces additional restrictions after a person is out on bail ?

Only when there's a risk of the suspect colluding with others and concealing the evidence.

IANAL, but I read that there were good reasons that the prosecution believes he does it. But this system is criticized today as it gives too much power to the prosecutors.

I think the biggest problem is, as you mentioned, the slowness and bureaucracy of Japan's justice system, which I guess is still mostly paper-based. If it would take only a couple of weeks, he might have not done it. Everything is so slow to change here, and it's not just the justice system. I feel that Japan's inflexibility is slowly consuming the country.

Japan's conviction rate is above 99%. If you're arrested you can be held for up to 23 days without access to a lawyer. Japan's justice system is far from perfect.

This is NOT true.

You can get detained without any solid proof on anything for 23 days, but immediately upon arrest you will get put in contact with a lawyer if you have one, or can request the 'on duty lawyer'.

If you don't have a lawyer, you get assigned a 'public attorney', but even the public attorneys aren't as bad as in the US. They are just normal lawyers that are required by law to ALSO take cases for people as 'public attorneys', so they are usually very good.

During detainment you can request contact to your lawyer at any moment outside of the regular lawyer visits all few days.

Source: I went through this. Throwaway for obvious reasons.

> Japan's conviction rate is above 99%.

Because Japan doesn't have a plea bargain system. That 99% figure is very similar to the conviction+plea bargain rate in e.g. the US.

US is somewhere around 90%. That's not that close to 99%.

Plea bargains are included in conviction counts.

>"Japan's conviction rate is above 99%."

Although this figure is is regularly sited in the context of Ghosn's decision to flee the country this statistic is misleading since in Japan this figure counts cases where the defendant pleads guilty. So this 99% figure applies to all prosecuted cases not just contested cases. If the US were to use the same calculation the conviction rate would be about the same. I believe it was Ghosn's team who first referenced this statistic in the wake of his escape and it was something of a stroke of PR genius as it seems to find its way into nearly all coverage of Ghosn's escape. And these references are seemingly always without a comparative context. The following is a good read on this statistic:


The 99% conviction rate number that is mentioned can be misleading. This article[1] details how prosecutors drop cases and only bring 'airtight' cases before a judge.

However, Carlos Ghosn's case was not simple some street crime uncovered by local cops, it was investigated by the special investigation section of the Tokyo prosecutors office. Cases brought by them are far less likely to be dropped. The defendant more or less has to prove their innocence.

The power of prosecutors in the current system is clearly out of balance, but it doesn't seem to show signs of correcting anytime soon.


Thanks for the link. It is a very curious situation where a judge would fear a prosecutor. That does suggest a power imbalance. I feel your link also supports the point I was making though and the main difference between Japan and the US is that US makes heavy uses of plea bargains vs Japan's tendency to only ever bring cases they feel have a high probability of a successful conviction.

That's because the prosecution only go for cases they are very certain about. That alone is bad, but on top of that it breeds a culture of them 'always being right and how dare you question us'.

Sorry, but it's a sign of a justice system very out of whack and not something to defend.

People are only okay with it because most people don't have any interaction with law enforcement, let alone the justice system.

>"Sorry, but it's a sign of a justice system very out of whack and not something to defend."

I was in no way defending that system at all. I was just pointing out that the 99% statistic is constantly thrown about in Ghosn discussions without ever mentioning what the conviction percentage is anywhere else. And if you use the US as a a standard of comparison then that statistic is actually quite high as well. And if use the same calculation as Japan then the US is also above 99%.

If someone says "the life expectancy for women in my country is 88", then without comparing that to somewhere else perhaps your own country then you don't really know if you should consider 88 high or low or normal. Anyway the link I provided discusses comparative justice systems and why this is, including your first point.

I would love a citation on where you are getting "above 99%" for the US.

What I managed to find easily just now in https://www.justice.gov/usao/reading_room/reports/asr2012/12... page 9 has: "Of the 87,709 defendants terminated during Fiscal Year 2012, 80,963, or 93 percent, either pled guilty or were found guilty."

So quite high, but not anything like over 99%.

This is federal cases, though, so maybe state cases have higher enough volume and conviction rates to make the overall number over 99%? Again, I would love to see hard data.

> Japan’s often-cited conviction rate of over 99 percent is a percentage of all prosecuted cases, not just contested cases. It is eye-catching, but misleading, since it counts as convictions those cases in which defendants pleaded guilty. If the U.S. conviction rate were calculated in a similar manner it would also exceed 99 percent since so few cases are contested at trial (in FY 2018 only 320 of the total number of 79,704 federal defendants were acquitted at trial).[0]

[0] https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/carlos-ghosn-and-japans-99-c...

Edit: looking at your linked PDF I think the above quote is missing the thousands of misdemeanors dismissed by judges. This just goes the show the difficulty of comparing legal systems using a single number from each.

There's a citation linked in my GP comment above.

Thank you; I had missed that. As the sibling comment from shkkmo points out, not all prosecuted cases that result in a "not guilty" involve acquittal at trial. But I will grant that it's hard to talk about numbers here without very carefully defining what exactly we will be counting...

How do you plead guilty and not get convicted? I'm not arguing - I genuinely don't understand.

Pleading guilty means you yourself admit your guilt(often in exchange for some concession such as a reduced crime or reduced sentence.) This in contrast to a judge or jury finding you guilty. The latter is considered a "contested" case. Contested cases are what the US uses for the convictions rate percentage. The vast majority of federal criminal cases in the US are not contested and do not go to trial, despite what TV courtroom drama would have you believe. If you plead guilty, a conviction will still be entered I was just pointing out the procedural differences and how they are counted.

It includes cases where they plead guilty, it's not made from just them.

> He couldn't meet his wife seems like an unreasonable condition for someone out on bail

It’s also not ridiculous? She isn’t his lawyer. He’s accused of a multibillion dollar fraud. And he was clearly a flight risk, one she personally amplified.

> She isn’t his lawyer. He’s accused of a multibillion dollar fraud. And he was clearly a flight risk, one she personally amplified.

A) He was not in prison at the time B) Even incarcerated prisoners in most countries are allowed visits from their family C) It appears that keeping them apart is what actually amplified his flight risk, not letting them meet.

How would being able to meet his wife have amplified his flight risk? Indeed he said the prospect of another year being kept apart from her (while still not getting a trial or even being charged) was his reason for absconding.

I think most people missed the most important part of the story

> The large box carrying Ghosn was never x-rayed or checked by customs officials, because it was too big to fit inside the x-ray machine

The security theater we have to go through in the airport is just that: a pathetic security theater. You have a large box, that's definitively something that you gotta check. If you can't x-ray it, then at least open it?

You're conflating the role of TSA (or Japan's equivalent) with customs. The security risk of taking an uninspected box on a private jet is pretty low, and private jets routinely have fewer security checks. On the customs side, they're usually less concerned with someone smuggling something out of the country than smuggling something in. About the only thing they would have cared about leaving the country like that on a private jet is Carlos Ghosn.

I don't think you could be right. There are lots of things that could be smuggled out of a country at all times: Precious metals, precious art and historical artifacts, Money and Drugs, etc...

A country does care about what is coming out of its territory. If you have a high incidence of drugs coming out of Japan, the country will be flagged by the other countries. This makes shipping both expensive and difficult.

> The security risk of taking an uninspected box on a private jet is pretty low, and private jets routinely have fewer security checks.

I don't have the stats, but I'd argue that on a % basis, it's less likely that a single traveler is carrying something illegal than a private jet owner. I think the reason private jet owner do not get "scanned" is their status. That would annoy these persons and Japan (and most countries) do not want to annoy them.

I’d assume that the likelihood that a passenger on a private jet would intend to hijack it or blow it up is rather low. Which is what the TSA cares about. Even if that happens it’s of lesser concern to the public than if it happened on a passenger jet.

Never forget the bullies and what they put Uzi Nissan through (Nissan.com), he still kept the domain. Never buy a Nissan.

> in a country which has a 99.4% conviction rate.

Brutal. Either they're really good at building the necessary evidence or they're just ruthless when it comes to criminal justice. Based on the other comments in this thread, it seems the latter. It's interesting to me how a society that prides itself on honor can act so dishonorably when it comes to human rights. This applies to their work ethics as well. They have the most fascinating culture in my opinion, but the warts are really ugly

What disappoints me is that people make these claims without taking a few seconds to Google…

Academic work I’ve seen suggests it’s basically down to case selection:


But what also fascinates me is that people can so easily come up with strong opinions about a culture based on limited information I.e saying “a society that prides itself on honor can act so dishonorably”…

It’s weird, people talk about Japan like it’s an alien planet. Klingons may have been based upon the Japanese but I assure you Japanese life is not very much like Star Trek.

We watch anime so we know what we're talking about.

Most popular ideas about what Japan is like by people who have never been there are probably wrong, but also Japan is massively from the US in all sorts of interesting ways that are worth talking about.

On this note, the Ace Attorney series is one long parody of the Japanese criminal law system, which is why it's such a running theme that every defendant is automatically guilty until you incontrovertibly prove them otherwise and why the defense attorneys get treated like dirt throughout.

The series may have taken things a little far: https://www.awkwardzombie.com/comic/guilty-until-proven-guil...

> This is a comic that Norrin wrote. It is about the Ace Attorney system of law, in which your client is not only guilty until proven innocent, but also guilty until someone else is proven guilty. If you want to get away with murder in this universe, all you need to do is not wander into the courtroom after the system has inevitably arrested the wrong person.

Yeah that just sounds like something you made up. I suppose Perry Mason is a parody of the American legal system too?

"a society that prides itself on honor"

Are there any society that does not? This seems a meaningless, often parotted phrase about Japanese culture by people who do not understand it.

That exact same sentence could be applied to the treatment of black and brown people in the United States. Do you remember stop-and-frisk in New York City? What percentage was black and brown people? It was an appalling programme and gross miscarriage of justice. And that happened (figuratively) in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

>Either they're really good at building the necessary evidence or they're just ruthless when it comes to criminal justice. Based on the other comments in this thread, it seems the latter.

That isn't actually quite the case. Part of that amazing conviction rate comes from simply not prosecuting cases that they have a chance of losing. So they have an abysmal prosecution rate for crimes like rape.

Rape has abysmal prosecution and conviction rates in the US. A few years ago, I was told 3% of cases end in conviction. Thus it was no surprise that the local prosecutor declined to take my case, despite my providing the glass that contained the drug residue.

> It's interesting to me how a society that prides itself on honor can act so dishonorably when it comes to human rights.

Honor has different definitions for different cultures.

Vanity Fair did a compelling article about this as well, which focused in more detail on the role of former green beret Michael Taylor in planning the escape.


Tangentially, here's a fascinating hour-long documentary (in French, but subtitled) on what prison in Japan is like:


Bear in mind that this was filmed with the cooperation of the authorities, there are plenty of stories about abuses beyond what is shown.

Too bad for all the people that helped him escape who are being jailed now.

I really don't understand that part to be honest, from the point of view of the two Americans. Given their part in the escape you'd think they'd be aware of Japan's terrifying justice system and of the situation with the extradition treaties. Why would you help someone escape all that if you have to go back to a country with an extradition treaty with Japan.

Money - maybe he promised them millions for their help.

I think they were paid about $1.3 million. To me, the amount is surprisingly low given how much money Ghosn has, and the risk and effort involved.

Also I find it strange that the names of these 2 guys were known to everyone in the world immediately after Ghosn escaped.

I don’t think they thought they were at risk and weren’t planning on returning to Japan. I would take 1.3 million in return for never visiting a foreign country again.

Should have sorted out moving to a country that wouldn't extradite them in their deal with Ghosn then.

Ghosn would have been desperate enough to provide it.

With $1.3 million, they can settle in lots of third-world countries until this whole saga clears. It was a miscalculation on their part.

Coming back to the US was dumb, the Taylor’s apparently had a home in Lebanon.

I Googled pretty hard for a source on this, and I could not find anything. Can you share a source?

Ya exactly. What is his response to them being in jail instead of him? What a horrible thing to do to someone.

Maybe he's working behind the scenes to free them, but in the interview, he did not seem overly concerned about their fate.

Not much he can do.

Why too bad? They obviously broke the law and got caught.

Imagine a pair of spetznaz break Derek Chauvin out of the US and bring him to another country. They get caught.

Too bad these foreign special forces got caught?

The difference between what happened to Ghosn and them was what I was contrasting.

So you also believe that its too bad that Ghosn escaped trial and punishment? And that it's particularly nasty that the guys who engineered his escape ended up worse than the root criminal?

If so, we agree. But that there are no consequences of breaking another country's sovereignty the way Ghosn and those American goons believe they're entitled to, is ridiculous. Actually, it's American exceptionalism.

“ Documentary series Storyville details his extraordinary rise and sudden fall in Carlos Ghosn: The Last Flight which will be shown on BBC 4 on Wednesday 14 July.”

^ Hoping this doc will make its way to American television.. maybe PBS/Frontline?

You can view BBC programing by setting up Tor to go through the U.K.

I had no idea this was even possible. Can you choose the physical location of your exit nodes?


Not so sound when we Brits have to pay a license fee by law for owning a TV that can tune in to any public channel just to fund the BBC!

Sounds downright fair in comparison to Germany, where you have to pay a TV license fee for having a home, no TV set required.

As a non-British person living outside the United Kingdom, I also find it frustrating that I cannot pay to watch some things on the Beeb! (Steve McQueen - Small Axe!)

I don't understand. This guy fled the justice system of a democracy, and we are telling the story as if he were the hero escaping the gulag of some authoritarian country. Why do we tell his story as if it was "good" ?

It is worth noting that he is the one telling the story here.

Why is he being given a platform by the BBC though

> From Tokyo, Mr Ghosn travelled by bullet train to Osaka where a private jet was waiting at the local airport to depart.

How I escaped Japan in a private jet

The more I learned about the Japanese judicial system, the more I found myself cheering for this guy. The system seemed like it was designed as a can't-lose process for the prosecutors, and if arrested, you're guilty until proven innocent. I'm more sad that the guys who helped him are in hot water.

I’d be interested in sources on this…

Not OP, but happy to oblige:

Japan’s notoriously ruthless criminal justice system is getting a face lift https://qz.com/693437/japans-notoriously-ruthless-criminal-j...

A legal review of why Japan high conviction rate is bad https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/legal-review-why-japan-high-c...

The first article has a couple of anecdotes, and a statement that there are reforms in progress.

The second just states “little to do with the assumption that prosecutors only choose cases they are confident they can win” but doesn’t do anything to back up that claim with data. It just discusses aspects of the law that are different in Japan/the US.

Would be more interesting to refute the academic work on this:


This article posted elsewhere also seems interesting:


So, does anyone have anything a bit more detailed and systematic than the above? Also curious about treatment in Japanese prisons as compared to the US/elsewhere.

All luggage is supposed to undergo a security check in an X-ray machine. This is true for private jets as well. I am curious how it played out in this particular case. Did it go through an X-ray machine or not? If yes, how did they mistook a human for a musical instrument?

The box was chosen to be too large to fit in the x-ray machine. The checks were lax for private jets. I assume this loophole is already closed.

I'm guessing this was just a calculated risk. From last year's Vanity Fair piece:

"Nothing got x-rayed, not even our backpacks”[1]

I have to believe someone involved had observed similar behavior at this location prior to this escape operation.

[1] https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-carlos-ghosn-esc...

honestly i dopnt think ghosn is really the big issue anyways. as stated in the article this is more about renault than ghosn. he was just collateral, probably because he didnt wanna pick sides . probably wouldn't have been arrested if he stepped down but if you ran 2 different companies in 2 different places would you.

> probably because he didnt wanna pick sides

Ghosn was pushing the merger. His plan was the headquarters the merged holding company outside both Japan and France where he would have yet even less supervision.

Ghosn pillaged Nissan and Renault, and a merger was his perfect chance to cover the tracks.

Ghosn pillaged Nissan out of bankruptcy.

sorry but is the BBC late to the party? I have seen articles about this as early as dec 2019.

French article: https://www.lesechos.fr/amp/1159576

Carlos should have taken the GM role when Obama called him about it. He would've made a lot more money and not been in this situation.

It's very easy to say what Mr. Ghosn should have done in a retrospective analysis. Unfortunately, he didn't have a crystal ball.

Yeah, and I should have kept all my bitcoins instead of selling them at $650 each, but here we are.

Ha, I sold 2 for ~200 usd. Coulda shoulda woulda


> Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan so Mr Ghosn has been allowed to remain there.

Second try, having calmed down a little:

Yes, sure, he's run off to some country that has no extradition (and which conveniently for him also happens to be his native country). But still: So what -- why is this feted in international media, and not condemned? Other criminals that hare off to avoid extradition are not written up as heroes, are they? Or should they be?

The only two exceptions that come to mind are

a) Ronnie Biggs -- but the semi-cultish veneration this simple (and by all accounts rather bumbling) train robber received from large parts of the British public is, AIUI, now mostly (and IMO quite rightly) regarded as misguided; and

b) Edward Snowden. But he blew the whistle on important wrongdoings by a superpower's military -- he did not commit any crime for personal gain.

What Ghosn did was the exact opposite: cooking corporate bookkeeping, fiddling his taxes, and generally enriching himself. He is, AFAICS, just a modern-day John DeLorean, only on a much grander scale. So I still really, really just don't get it: YTF is this so widely reported on in such approving tones? He's a criminal evading justice. Surely this ought to be deplored, not revered?

Noticed that on my second read; didn't make it all the way through on the first.

Yeah, so he didn't have to go to the embassy.


Gentle reminder that it's against the rules to accuse someone of not reading the article. Please see here: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

>Until then, he remains a once-big-fish in a small pond, living in exile and under armed guard in Beirut for the foreseeable future.

How secure is he in Beruit? If Japan really wanted him badly, I would guess he would be pretty easy for Israeli Mossad to pick up.

It's pretty easy for Mossad to pick up whoever they want, but he's accused of white-collar crime, not matters of national security; I'd be surprised if Israel (or any other country) would be willing to deploy their intelligence services and violate another nation's sovereignty over it. Is that something they've ever done?

Why would you hear about it...?

> How secure is he in Beruit? If Japan really wanted him badly, I would guess he would be pretty easy for Israeli Mossad to pick up.

The Mossad only does what's in the national interest of Israel, they are not bounty hunters for hire.

If Japan really wants Ghosn they will either have to send their own team with all the headaches that entails and/or they will need to negotiate with the various groups currently in control of Lebanon... and given they're falling apart, failing to secure food, medicine and fuel for electricity generation, a rich multi-millionaire with a private security force isn't exactly at the top of their priority list.

Not a priority for justice, but Ghosn is instead prime material for a house trade. Foreign loans in exchange for an extradition treaty, etc. It might not happen now, but Ghosn needs it not to happen for the rest of his natural life. Japan only needs one chance. Ghosn needs an unstable country to stay together and be not-desperate for a long time.

Wtf would Mossad get involved, and if they did why would they send him to Japan.

If he were funding Hezbollah (other than through paying taxes in Lebanon), they'd have gotten him anyway by now.

Taxes dont go to fund Hezbollah in Lebanon. For one simple reason. Taxes are never collected. If they were the country wouldn't be in a financial crisis.

Lebanon is an economic disaster area right now, so while this won't directly affect the fabulously wealthy Ghosn, he's ironically sort of imprisoned in a failing state.

He's Lebanese. It's one of his homes.

How does this make Lebanon less of an economic disaster area?

I'd take that over being in a prison cell.

Well, here is what I'm curious about. Which of these conditions is valid justification for violating house arrest and fleeing a jurisdiction that you are being prosecuted in?

-- You believe the charges or prosecution is being unfairly conducted

-- You believe you are innocent

-- You believe public opinion is on your side

-- You have a more favorable jurisdiction you can flee to

Is it up to you to decide that you're in the right, and if you have resources, should escape the legal system?

I'm sure many people feel these points when they're being prosecuted. Are they to decide? Or is it just that he's rich and had the means to act on these opinions?

That's like asking when violent revolution is justified. There is certainly a point where it's legitimate, but the people undertaking it have a rather biased perspective.

People at every level do what they can to evade justice systems, and of course the richer you are the more dramatic that will be. IMO it's more relevant for us to judge for ourselves whether he was right or not. Did he flee a system that we consider fair and reasonable, or one that's arbitrary and unjust?

So amazing. Haha. Wow. Very ballsy move but given the alternative outcome probably the nicest outcome possible. Serves as a nice real-world dramatic thriller of sorts. It worked. And it’ll probably be the only time this ever works. But still, a great use of that one time.

I find it really interesting that Ghosn (I’m just gonna call him “Ghost,” k) was head of two other gigantic car monoliths and actually reduced Nissan’s expenditures. Given Japan’s “employed for life” culture that still pervades a great deal of companies, I wonder if that rubbed people the wrong way. Pure speculation, I don’t know what cuts were made. What I find really impressive is that he can run a car company so well that he’s recruited by other companies to take the reins for a while. Talent that can migrate among organizations and boost them all a little bit. I suppose what works at one will probably work at another.

To get to that role, I wonder if he started in an executive space or rode a small car-related company up to the stratosphere and then moved laterally, or what.

Complimentary joke: He is one of the quietest musical instruments around.

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