Nissan ex-chief Ghosn cancels hastily arranged Tokyo press conference

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's daughters expressed concern the press conference could invite retaliation by Japanese authorities. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn abruptly cancelled plans on Friday (June 28) for what would have been his first press conference since his arrest in November, after his daughters expressed concern it could invite retaliation by Japanese authorities, his lawyers said.

"In Japan we just don't know what terrible thing will happen next, not just limited to rearrest," one of his lawyers, Mr Junichiro Hironaka, told reporters outside his office.

The lawyer said consequences could also include loss of bail, but did not give further details.

The Japanese government's chief spokesman Yoshihide Suga has said that Ghosn is being treated in accordance with Japanese law.

Mr Hironaka cancelled the briefing at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) only two hours after journalists were informed of the event.

Had it gone ahead, Ghosn would have spoken as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted national leaders at the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders gathering in Osaka, including US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Ghosn's wife Carole has called on Mr Macron to raise the issue of her husband's treatment in Japan.

Japanese courts have dismissed appeals by Ghosn to ease a bail restriction that bans him from contacting his wife. His lawyers have argued that that condition violates Japan's Constitution and international law on family separations.

Mr Hironaka said the decision to hold the press conference on Friday came after Ghosn's latest attempt to seek court permission for a one-off meeting with his wife failed, and was unrelated to the timing of the G-20.

Ghosn's legal team have nonetheless taken note of the leaders' gathering.

Another of his lawyers, Mr Takashi Takano, penned a statement on Tuesday that criticised Mr Abe for promoting Japanese openness when it "fiercely guarded its private commercial entities, even through use of basic sovereign powers, including criminal investigation and penal sanction".

Once among the world's most feted auto executives, Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan over charges including enriching himself at a cost of US$5 million (S$6.8 million) to Nissan.

Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing, saying he is the victim of a boardroom coup.

He has accused "back-stabbing" former colleagues of conspiring to oust him from Nissan in order to derail a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and Renault, its top shareholder.

The scandal has rocked the industry and exposed tensions in the automaking partnership between Nissan and Renault SA.

Since his initial arrest in November last year, Ghosn has been charged four times for crimes which also include under-reporting his Nissan salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to his employer's books during his time at the helm of Japan's No. 2 automaker.

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