Japan tightening immigration rules in wake of Ghosn's flight

TOKYO • Japan yesterday said it would tighten immigration measures as it called the escape of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn "unjustifiable", in its first official public comments on the case.

Justice Minister Masako Mori said Ghosn's escape from Japan - while he was out on bail awaiting trial over multiple counts of financial misconduct - was very regrettable and added that there was no record of him leaving the country.

She promised a thorough investigation and said the authorities had issued an international notice for his arrest. "I have instructed the Immigration Services Agency to coordinate with related agencies to further tighten departure procedures," said Ms Mori, adding that the court had revoked Ghosn's bail.

"Our country's criminal justice system sets out appropriate procedures to clarify the truth of cases and is administered appropriately, while guaranteeing basic individual human rights. The flight by a defendant on bail is unjustifiable," she said. "It is believed he used some wrongful methods to illegally leave the country."

Ms Mori is due to brief reporters in Tokyo today.

The 65-year-old tycoon issued a statement last Tuesday, saying he had fled to his childhood home of Lebanon to escape a "rigged" justice system in Japan.

First arrested in November 2018, he was out on bail over the past several months.

Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, has repeatedly maintained his innocence. He twice won bail by persuading the court that he was not a flight risk.

Japan's public prosecutors said the escape vindicated their argument that Ghosn should have been kept in custody.

"The defendant Ghosn had abundant financial power and multiple foreign bases. It was easy for him to flee," they said last week. There was also a "realistic danger" that he would destroy evidence related to the case, they added.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Japan tightening immigration rules in wake of Ghosn's flight'. Print Edition | Subscribe