Japan transport minister orders security checks for large luggage at airports after Ghosn escape

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn allegedly avoided detection by hiding inside an audio equipment case that went uninspected because it was too large for the X-ray machine at Kansai airport.
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn allegedly avoided detection by hiding inside an audio equipment case that went uninspected because it was too large for the X-ray machine at Kansai airport.PHOTO: AP

TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said on Tuesday (Jan 7) that inspections of large baggage were now mandatory at private jet facilities at Japan's major airports, following the stunning escape of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from the country.

The 65-year-old executive skipped bail nearly a week ago, fleeing Japan where he was awaiting trial on multiple counts of financial misconduct that he denies. He is now in Lebanon and the details of his escape remain spotty.

Japan said it is still investigating how he slipped past strict security measures imposed as part of his bail conditions.

Media reports had said he hid inside an audio equipment case that went uninspected because it was too large for the X-ray machine at Kansai airport.

Citing sources close to the investigation, public broadcaster NHK said on Monday that Ghosn left his residence by himself on the afternoon of Dec 29 and met two men at a Tokyo hotel.

The three then boarded a Shinkansen bullet train together from Tokyo's Shinagawa station to a station in western Osaka, arriving at around 7.30pm. The trio then checked in at a hotel near Kansai airport, but only the two men accompanying Ghosn were caught on security camera leaving the hotel later in the evening, NHK said. They were carrying "two big boxes" which were not checked by customs staff at the airport, the report added.

Ghosn is believed to have taken a private jet from the airport that evening, bound for Istanbul, where he switched planes and continued to Beirut.

Japan has asked Lebanon for help regarding  Ghosn,  calling his escape to Beirut“regrettable” but stopping short of spelling out what Tokyo was seeking from local authorities. 

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed at the end of last month that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan. 

“It’s necessary to carefully consider the legal systems of both countries,” he told a news conference, referring to any requests for the extradition of a fugitive.

Ghosn is due to speak to the media in Lebanon on Wednesday, where he is widely expected to detail some of the claims he has made against Nissan since his arrest in November 2018. 

Citing an interview with Ghosn, Fox Business reported that the former executive said he has “actual evidence” and documents to show there was a Japanese government-backed coup to“take him out”. 

He plans to identify those he believes responsible at a news conference, the broadcaster reported. 

Separately, Nissan said Ghosn’s flight from Japan would not affect its policy of holding him responsible for “serious misconduct”. 

“The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement.