The huge story in Japan this month is the arrest of the former Nissan CEO and chairman Carlos Ghosn. But where is now? Why hasn’t he be photographed or filmed? And has he actually been charged with a crime?
Piecing together the news coverage makes it fairly easy to answer the first question about Mr Ghosn’s whereabouts.
According to Reuters, he is inside the Tokyo Detention House in Katsushika Ward. TV reporters have set up positions outside the building to do “pieces to camera” from there.
Reuters says: “The detention center, a tower-like structure in eastern Tokyo, is where the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, which carried out the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways, was executed by hanging this year.”
The death row part of the facility is separate to the one for people being investigated for crimes. But it does add another lurid detail to the sudden and dramatic change in circumstances, since Mr Ghosn flew into Tokyo on September 19th.
Asahi Television must have received a tip that something was happening at the airport. Somehow, it managed to obtain film of men in suits marching up the staircase into Mr Ghosn’s private jet. They quickly pulled down the shutters to prevent people seeing what was going on inside.
AFP agency suggests that Mr Ghosn spent several hours inside the plane with prosecutors – initially on a voluntary basis – and was later arrested.
AFP also says that at around 5pm, investigators raided Nissan’s plush Yokohama headquarters and another team stormed his luxurious apartment, in the affluent Tokyo neighbourhood of Motoazabu. By 5:30 pm, word was out and hoards of camera crews swarmed around the building.
So far as I can tell, the reason that nobody’s managed to get any film or pictures of Mr Ghosn since his arrest is that he’s only been in his cell in the detention centre and the press can’t find a way into the building. This, of course, has prevented him from taking the opportunity to answer the claims of his accusers.
So far, Mr Ghosn has been denounced by his company but he has not been charged. This is due to a strange fact about Japanese law of which I was previously unaware. The Japan Times says that: “Japanese law permits the detention of suspects for up to 23 days before they are charged.”
This is a contrast to the situation in the UK, whereby the police can hold a person for up to 24 hours before they have to charge them with a crime or release them – although there are some exceptions for cases involving murder and terrorism.
It suggests that the legal system in Japan seems to press arrested people into confessing to crimes before there is any action in a courtroom. In this context, I am sceptical about reports on NHK that Mr Ghosn has “denied the charges against him” as it seems there are no charges to deny – yet.
Mr Ghosn will need a good lawyer to explain to him what is happening. The Asahi Shimbun claims that Motonari Otsuru, a former public prosecutor, has been hired to defend him.
Mr Otsuru will soon have the arduous task of becoming the public representative of his client before the press. And there are hundreds of journalists in Tokyo and around the world who are keen to hear what Mr Ghosn has to say.