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Editorial: Ex-Nissan chief Ghosn's news conference fails to justify escape from Japan

Former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn, who escaped from Japan to Lebanon while out on bail, recently held a press conference in Beirut.

During his news conference, Ghosn repeatedly criticized the Japanese criminal justice system. He pointed to Japan's long interrogations and high conviction rate, and said that he escaped Japan because he did not have a chance for a fair trial here.

However, Ghosn was accused of crimes and was to stand trial based on Japanese criminal law. He should argue his innocence with head held high in the Japanese courts. It would have been possible for him to hold a press conference to explain his position in Japan without going all the way to Lebanon.

To say that he had no choice but to illicitly leave Japan because there was a problem with the country's criminal justice system is nothing but a straw man argument. Fleeing the country cannot be justified.

Ghosn referred to documents to declare his innocence on charges such as violations of the Companies Act. He claimed that the reason for his arrest was a conspiracy engineered by Nissan executives who wanted to eliminate the influence of Renault in cooperation with Japanese prosecutors.

There was distrust among Nissan executives toward Ghosn. And there is no denying that a plea deal between prosecutors and those connected with Nissan propelled the investigation forward. However, the reason prosecutors made the step to arrest and indict Ghosn was because suspicions that crimes had been committed grew.

Ghosn's explanation did not shed any more light than the remarks already made by his defense attorneys in Japan. No new information emerged. Meanwhile, Ghosn remained mum on how he left Japan without going through the proper channels.

Media from around the world flocked to the press conference, which lasted 2 1/2 hours. Ghosn spoke passionately in numerous languages, at times inviting applause from those present.

At the same time, he refused many Japanese media outlets from entering the press conference venue, accusing them of thus far reporting just Nissan's and the prosecution's sides of the story. The news conference left an undeniable impression of being scant in content and more a performance in which Ghosn waxed poetic about his own theories than anything else.

In response to Ghosn's press conference, Japanese Justice Minister Masako Mori held two impromptu news conferences, and the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office also released a comment. It is only natural that Japanese authorities present their positions to the world.

However, when Ghosn's escape from Japan first surfaced, it took Mori five days to make a public comment. During that time, the foreign media questioned the Japanese criminal justice system. We have to admit that her response was belated.

Problems with the Japanese criminal justice system, such as closed-door interrogations and long-term detentions, have long been pointed out. But these problems should be discussed separately from Ghosn's escape.

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