Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan and Renault, has strangely escaped Japan, where he was under house arrest on suspicion of fraud. A year and a half later, he first told how he got out of the country. In an exclusive interview with BBC Ghosn recounts how he lay in the music box for an hour and a half.
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 when Nissan accused him of fraud, something the former auto mogul has long denied. “It’s like you get hit by a bus or something very painful happens to you. The only memory in this moment is shock and shock,” Ghosn describes the moment of his arrest. “Suddenly I had to learn to live without a watch, without a computer, without a phone, without news and without a pen.”
For more than a year, Ghosn has been in prison alternately or under house arrest in his Tokyo home. If convicted, he risks 15 years in prison.
When Ghosn was told he was no longer allowed to call his wife Carol, the former Nissan CEO decided to try to escape. The plan was that I couldn’t show my face, so I had to hide somewhere. The only way I could hide was in the trunk or luggage so that no one would see me and no one would recognize me. “Only in this way can the plan succeed,” Ghosn said. His choice of music box was “the most reasonable choice, as many concerts were being held in Japan at that time”.
Ghosn describes how he acted as normal as possible on the day of his disappearance, changing his suit for daily clothes and taking the train to Osaka. There was a special flight waiting. But Ghosn first had to hide in a coffin in a nearby hotel.
“The moment you enter the coffin, you don’t think about the past or the future. You only think about the moment itself,” Ghosn says. “You are not afraid, you don’t feel any emotions and you focus only on the fact that this is your only chance. If you let her go, she will pay for life as a hostage in Japan.”
Ghosn estimates that he spent a total of an hour and a half in the coffin. Although it felt like “a year and a half”. “The 30 minutes I spent in the box waiting for the plane to take off was probably the longest of my life.”
Ghosn eventually landed in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, allowing Ghosn to spend his days there as a free man.
Michael and Peter Taylor, the two Americans who helped Ghosn escape, have been extradited to Japan and face up to three years in prison. Ghosn’s former classmate at Nissan, Greg Kelly, also risks prison staff.
How does Ghosn view those trials against people left behind in Japan? “I feel sorry for all the people who fell victim to Japan’s hostage justice system, all of them.”
The full interview with Carlos Ghosn will air on BBC4 tonight at 11pm.
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