Japan vows to strengthen immigration checks in wake of Carlos Ghosn escape

Japan’s justice minister says the flight of former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn as he awaited trial on financial misconduct charges was inexcusable and vowed to beef up immigration checks.

Justice Minister Masako Mori said Sunday she has ordered an investigation after Ghosn issued a statement saying he was in Lebanon.

She said there were no records of Ghosn’s departure from Tokyo.

She said his bail has been revoked, and Interpol had issued a wanted notice. Departure checks needed to be strengthened to prevent a recurrence, Mori said.

While expressing deep regret over what had happened, Mori stopped short of outlining any specific action Japan might take to get Ghosn back.

Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.

A vehicle leaves Ghosn’s house in Beirut, Lebanon, on Saturday. (Maya Alleruzzo/Associated Press)

“Our nation’s criminal justice system protects the basic human rights of an individual and properly carries out appropriate procedures to disclose the truth of various cases, and the flight of a suspect while out on bail is never justified,” she said in a statement.

Mori’s statement was the first public comment by a Japanese government official after the stunning escape of Ghosn, once a superstar of the auto industry.

First arrested in November 2018, Ghosn was out on bail over the last several months, and more recently had moved into a home in an upscale part of Tokyo.

He has repeatedly said he was innocent. His statement from Beirut said he was escaping injustice.

Japan’s justice system has come under fire from human rights advocates for its long detentions, the reliance on confessions and prolonged trials.

Ghosn’s trial was not expected to start until April at the earliest.

During that time, he had been prohibited from seeing his wife, and was only allowed a couple of video calls in the presence of a lawyer.

Watch: Interpol issues ‘red notice’ for Ghosn

Why disgraced ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn may be beyond the reach of prosecutors after his dramatic escape to Lebanon — and despite a request for his arrest by Interpol. 2:06

Ghosn had been charged with underreporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.

Although the details of his escape are not yet clear, 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 Monday and has not been seen since.

He promised to talk to reporters Wednesday.

His lawyers in Japan said they knew nothing, were stunned and felt betrayed by his action.

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