Japan to strengthen border checks after Carlos Ghosn case

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Japan’s justice minister has vowed to strengthen border departure checks and review bail conditions after Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn fled the country.

Masako Mori told reporters at a news conference that the ministry has already acted to prevent a recurrence but declined to give details.

She was asked about reports that Mr Ghosn had hidden in a box and that baggage checks at a regional airport might have been insufficient.

Mr Ghosn skipped bail while awaiting trial on various financial misconduct allegations and later said from Lebanon that he did it to escape injustice.

Ms Mori declined to say who might be held responsible for such a high-profile flight, stressing it was still under investigation.

She said Mr Ghosn left illegally, denouncing it as an “unjustifiable” crime.

“Japan’s justice system allows investigating the facts while it ensures the individual basic human rights at the same time,” Ms Mori told reporters at the ministry.

“It is set with appropriate procedures and it is operated appropriately.”

She acknowledged the case was being looked at under an ongoing review of the nation’s judicial system, including introducing electronic tethers to monitor those out on bail.

“We are aware of the criticisms,” Mr Mori said, referring to human rights advocates’ descriptions of Japan’s legal system as “hostage justice”.

Justice Minister Masako Mori
Justice minister Masako Mori said border checks will be tightened (Koji Sasahara/AP/PA)

He was banned from meeting with his wife while out on bail and preparing for his trial has taken about a year, and a date has not been set.

Mr Ghosn was detained, twice, for a total of 130 days before he was released on bail a second time.

Takashi Takano, one of Mr Ghosn’s lawyers in Japan, said he felt sad and betrayed that Mr Ghosn did not try to win a verdict of innocence in court, but also expressed an understanding at how he might have lost hope with the Japanese judicial system.

Mr Ghosn had been charged with under-reporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He insists he is innocent.

His bail has been revoked and Interpol has issued a wanted notice. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon but Ms Mori left open the possibility Japan could seek Mr Ghosn’s return.

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