Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Japanese Justice SHAME

A few months ago I posted about Japan's troubles with Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motors (link: "Business Beware! Japan's Jellyfish Justice"). It's tricky to discuss this delicate topic. The Rule of Law in Japan seems brutal, arbitrary & unreliable, so it's generally better to shut up. "出る釘は打たれる"  - "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."

Ghosn, under indictment in Japan for financial crimes and contrary to his bail conditions, recently was able to leave the country and to meet with his family.

Illegality is bad. I don't personally know Carlos Ghosn. I believe Prosecutor's unwise entanglement in Nissan Motors' corporate fight damages Japan.

The case highlights a very disturbing unjust "crime" in Japan - Ghosn was humiliated & imprisoned for many months in the infamous Tokyo Kōchisho detention centre (東京拘置所). Even when released on bail he was not allowed to use email or the internet, or to communicate with his wife & family. He was not accused of crimes of violence, nor were people damaged or injured from his supposed crimes. Ghosn became a high-profile Enemy of the State for the crime of being non-Japanese.

I'm reminded of the Stallone film I first saw 25 years ago in Japan - "First Blood" (in Japanese ランボー  "Rambo") where a small town harasses a highly-decorated US military veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, mistreating him as a vagrant. Carlos Ghosn, a supremely successful global businessman, has been bullied by Japan on suspicion of minor bookkeeping lapses.

Japan's corporate corruption is legendary (click for links): Food fraud (such as at prestigious Hotel Okura), deliberately substandard manufacturing (Kobe Steel, Mitsubishi Materials, etc.), deadly pollution (Chisso poisoning of Minamata, etc.), circumvented building codes (hundreds of substandard buildings by Sumitomo Mitsui Construction, Kimura, etc.), cronyism & bribery (PM Abe's Moritomo Gakuen scandal), inattention to nuclear safety, karōshi (death from overwork, e.g. Dentsu), links to yakuza criminals,  etc., etc. Bureaucrats & politicians seldom publicly interfere.

(True, the huge $1.7 billion Olympus scandal generated some suspended prison sentences when great sums over many years couldn't be covered-up with apologies. It may even be Ghosn suffers as proxy for Olympus whistleblower Michael Woodford, another of the few foreign devils near the Japan Inc. power centre).

But Ghosn was taken-down, detained, and subsequently hobbled in unprecedented ways for suspected accounting irregularities. This attracts criticism for Japan's justice system when considering the many modern Japanese corporate actions which escape indictment - neglecting widespread public harm & deaths.

Japan's Nissan Scandal involves great international & financial intrigue, far beyond the personal circumstances of Carlos Ghosn. Businesspeople around the world are quietly alarmed. The Nissan case has been very badly mishandled -- and brings SHAME on Japan.