TOKYO — Japan’s justice minister vowed Monday to strengthen border departure checks and review bail conditions after Nissan’s 7201, -1.67% former Chairman Carlos Ghosn fled the country.
Masako Mori told reporters at a news conference the ministry has already acted to prevent a recurrence but declined to give details.
Ghosn skipped bail while awaiting trial on various financial misconduct allegations and later said from Lebanon that he did to escape injustice.
Mori declined to say who might be responsible for such a high-profile flight, stressing it was still under investigation.
She said Ghosn left illegally, denouncing it as an “unjustifiable” crime.
“Japan’s justice system allows investigating the facts while it ensures the individual basic human rights at the same time,” Mori said. It is set with appropriate procedures and it is operated appropriately. So, there is no reason to justify the escape by those on bail.”
Details of Ghosn’s stunning escape last week are not yet clear. But Turkish airline company MNG Jet has said two of its planes were used illegally, first flying him from Osaka, Japan, to Istanbul, and then on to Beirut, where he arrived last Monday and has not been seen since.
He promised to talk to reporters Wednesday. His lawyers in Japan said they knew nothing and felt betrayed by his action.
Ghosn, once a superstar of the auto industry, was first arrested in November 2018. He had been out on bail and most recently had lived in a home in an upscale part of Tokyo.
He was under strict surveillance as part of his bail conditions, raising questions about how he left undetected.
Security cameras at his home operated 24 hours a day, but the footage was only required to be submitted to the court monthly, according to lawyers’ documents detailing Ghosn’s bail conditions.
Ghosn had been charged with underreporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He has repeatedly said he was innocent.
His bail has been revoked, and Interpol had issued a wanted notice. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon, but Mori left open the possibility Japan could seek Ghosn’s return.
“It is indeed possible to ask for extradition of criminals based on the principle of reciprocity,” she said. But, upon doing that, we need to carefully study whether it is possible to guarantee this principle of reciprocity and their internal justice system.”