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The Fall of Carlos Ghosn

SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported recently by the Shingetsu News Agency.

The Fall of Carlos Ghosn

—Breaking! Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan Motors and Mitsubishi Motors, is about to be arrested in Japan over alleged financial improprieties.

—Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s impending arrest is related to charges that he violated the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act of 1948.

—If we understand correctly, the basic contention is that Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn allegedly under-declared his own financial compensation to the authorities by millions of dollars (hundreds of millions of yen).

—Nissan Motor Company to fire Carlos Ghosn as chairman and president in the wake of his arrest by Tokyo prosecutors.

—Ghosn has apparently been under investigation for months after a whistleblower tipped off authorities about his underreporting of his income. Another Nissan director, Greg Kelly, is also facing similar charges.

—Confirmed that Nissan Director Greg Kelly has also been arrested.

—Nissan Motors executive Hitoshi Kawaguchi visited the Kantei to give a report directly to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga about the events surrounding the arrest of Chairman Carlos Ghosn and Director Greg Kelly.

—French President Emmanuel Macron says his administration “will be extremely vigilant” about the Carlos Ghosn issue, as the French government is a direct shareholder in Renault, part of the three-company alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.

—The Renault Board of Directors decides that Carlos Ghosn will remain in place as chairman and CEO while he is in Japanese police custody. They apparently want to wait until they hear Ghosn’s side of the story before rushing to judgment.

—Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko worries that his firm will get the short shrift if Carlos Ghosn is driven out. Unlike the Nissan-Renault link, Mitsubishi Motors is mainly part of the alliance through Ghosn’s personal position.

—Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa’s behavior is proving to be odd. He seems to be throwing his leader Carlos Ghosn under the bus with particular relish, and even going so far as to downplay Ghosn’s undeniably impressive achievements at the automaker.

—It’s worth pointing out that Carlos Ghosn has so far been given Zero Opportunity to publicly defend himself since this story emerged on Monday evening. His accusers have entirely shaped the narrative while Ghosn is being held many days by the police.

—Why do we get the feeling that when Carlos Ghosn is finally released from police custody there is going to be a blockbuster press conference that reshapes our understanding of this story?

—Nissan Board of Directors dumps Carlos Ghosn as Chairman, giving him no opportunity to defend himself as he remains in police custody. It’s smelling more and more like a coup.

—Renault and the French side generally seem to have found Nissan’s internal report about Carlos Ghosn’s wrongdoing to be very convincing in its detail of evidence. Their fears that it is all a Nissan boardroom conspiracy have receded.

—The post-Ghosn Nissan board led by Hiroto Saikawa is thought likely to demand a change in the power balance with Renault. The Nissan leaders are annoyed that Nissan is more successful financially but has a smaller voice in group decision-making.

—Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto claims the Carlos Ghosn case is “one of the most serious types of crime.” Prosecutors may rearrest him. Its not clear when Ghosn will be able to defend his public reputation. Reputation-wise he’s been convicted without any chance to say a single word. Although we think of Japan as a democratic country, in some respects its judicial system is worthy of a China, Russia, or developing world dictatorship. Ghosn may be guilty of some wrongdoing, but letting accusers and prosecutors have ALL the say is pretty much Orwellian.

—Nissan planning to select Carlos Ghosn’s successor as chairman next month. Hiroto Saikawa, the same official who publicly threw Ghosn under the bus in a press conference, considered the most likely candidate to take the post.

—SNA is a progressive news agency that sees urgency in reducing income inequality and paying ordinary workers a fairer share for their labor. But, no, prosecutors and media, we do not accept your invitation to envy and hate Carlos Ghosn because he is rich and demanded perks.

—Asahi Shinbun reports Carlos Ghosn “effectively decided his own remuneration amounts and concealed their true size.” If so, don’t Hiroto Saikawa and the whole Nissan board have nearly equal culpability for acting as a rubber stamp and exercising no genuine oversight?

—We wonder if it has occurred to any of the insular Abe government geniuses yet that their outrageous prosecutorial treatment of Carlos Ghosn isn’t exactly going to help their supposed campaign to attract more high-level white collar executives from overseas.

—Former Nissan board member Greg Kelly reportedly denies that there was anything wrong with the reporting of Carlos Ghosn’s salary. This is the first hint we’ve had in five days about what stance Ghosn and Kelly are taking.

—Mitsubishi Motors expected to follow Nissan’s lead and dump Carlos Ghosn as its chairman on Monday. This will leave only Renault among the three-company alliance that still formally employs Ghosn as their leader.

—NHK reports that both Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly are taking the stance with police interrogators that the charges against them are false.

Politics

—After becoming the target of global ridicule, rightwing hack-cum-Cybersecurity Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada lamely backtracks on his Diet testimony and now says he “obviously” uses a computer at work. It’s not clear if he now knows what a USB drive is.

—Rightwing hack Cybersecurity Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada now admits that he doesn’t know much about cybersecurity and is in the post because, well, someone had to be minister: “My biggest job is to read out written replies” from bureaucrats, he says.

—Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai asked for more tax revenues to be sent from the major cities to the struggling rural areas “by mother’s mercy.” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike took that as a reference to herself and hit back at Governor Hirai, who quickly apologized.

—The Osaka Chapter of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan holds its first full meeting and Kiyomi Tsujimoto is chosen as the inaugural leader of the prefectural chapter.

—The 13-member Group of Independents led by Katsuya Okada are changing their strategy of trying to be a bridge for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Democratic Party For the People. First, they will attempt to join a united House of Representative caucus with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. Failing that, they will form a new political party.

—Asahi Shinbun survey finds that nearly 20% of city and town councils around the nation have no elected female members. The worst offender is Aomori Prefecture where almost half of all city and town councils have no female representatives.

—Tokihiro Nakamura elected to third term as Governor of Ehime Prefecture. He was supported by most ruling coalition as well as opposition political parties.

—Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso under fire again, this time for declaring that national health insurance premiums shouldn’t be paid to support “people who got sick by drinking too much and exercising too little.”

—Abe government may require resident foreigners (and perhaps only resident foreigners) to show a photo ID such as a Residence Card in order to receive medical care. An Insurance Card alone may soon be insufficient if the policy change is pushed through.

—Abe government likely to require businesses that employ foreign workers under the new visa categories to pay for their airfare back to their home countries if the work ends and the workers don’t have enough money to pay for it themselves.

—The ruling coalition defeats an opposition motion to remove Yasuhiro Hanashi as chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee over his handling of the contentious immigration bill.

—Board of Audit releases its final report on the sale of public land at a steeply discounted price to Moritomo Gakuen. The report declines to give any reason why the land was sold at a discount and, of course, does not recommend any punishments for officials.

—Mainichi Shinbun: Ruling party lawmaker and rightwing “Friend-of-Shinzo” Hakubun Shimomura under fire for accepting a political donation from a self-professed female “psychic” who has an outstanding court order against her regarding fraudulent fortune-telling.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan compiling legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBT in government administration and private businesses. They will ask other parties to join them in supporting the bill.

—There is some speculation that Ichiro Matsui’s success in winning the World Expo 2025 bid might strengthen his hand politically to the point that his party might finally become successful in administratively unifying Osaka prefecture and city.

International

—During his US tour, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki proposed three-way talks between the United States, Japan, and Okinawa over US military bases. Could there be a clearer sign that Tokyo has simply abdicated its responsibility to represent the democratic will of Okinawans?

—South Korea set to dissolve the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation over Abe government objections. This is effectively an acknowledgement from Seoul that the December 2015 Comfort Women deal is now dead as far as they are concerned.

—UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances outrages the Abe government by reporting that Japan’s reparations to the former Comfort Women are inadequate and that the issue can hardly be said to be fully resolved, as the Abe regime insists.

—Foreign Minister Taro Kono asks government of Papua New Guinea to step up efforts to recover remains of Japanese soldiers who died in the Pacific War. About 127,000 Japanese died in Papua New Guinea during the war, but the remains of only about 51,000 have been returned.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now in Papua New Guinea after a short visit to Darwin, Australia, a city that Japan attacked in February 1942, costing several hundred Australians their lives. Abe is the first ever Japanese prime minister to visit Darwin.

—North Korea official Ri Jong-Hyok: “Japan has been denying, concealing, and downplaying its wartime crimes, and has even started praising them, and thus taking steps towards creating a social atmosphere that would favor another invasion of the Korean Peninsula.”

—If any part of the “Northern Territories” are returned by Russia to Japan, the bilateral agreement is expected to include Tokyo’s firm guarantee that US military forces will never be allowed to be stationed on the islands.

—Former Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada leading group of Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers who want Japan to start developing a new model of fighter jet. Among their concerns is that Japan has come to rely too much on just purchasing US-made military equipment.

—Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya admits that he has asked the United States to delay delivery of the first GSDF Osprey aircraft because no local government in Japan has yet agreed to host them. The plan was that they will be based at Saga Airport.

—Hawaii Governor David Ige is in Tokyo to promote tourism to his US state. Ige’s ethnic heritage is Okinawan.

—Popular referendum in Taiwan decides to maintain the ban on the import of foods from the areas near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant for another two years.

Economy

—Businesses are struggling to prepare for October 2019 when most likely there will be a 10% consumption tax on some items and a 8% consumption tax on others. Government policy remains unclear, and time is needed to prepare machines and business staff members.

—China is tightening its ban on the import of waste materials as part of its “war on pollution” policies. This is deeply relevant to Japan, which used to rely on China taking waste plastic and other materials.

—In the wake of discord at the APEC summit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urges the United States and China to “build relations that will lead to stable global economic growth and development.”

—Japan Airlines facing deserved criticism after overbooking a nighttime Haneda-Fukuoka flight and then failing to arrange enough people to take other flights for long enough that the entire flight had to be cancelled because it became too late at night.

—Osaka wins its bid to host the 2025 World Expo. The plan is that it will be held on Yumeshima island right next to the nation’s first major casino resort complex, which the the Osaka hopes to open in 2024.

—Abe government wants Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi to be put in charge of a new body that will decide how to divide costs for hosting and the construction of facilities for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka.

—Other than Osaka’s Yumeshima itself, the idea is being explored to create satellite World Expo facilities in places like Kobe and Kyoto. It is, after all, being presented not only as an Osaka event, but a Kansai-wide expo.

—Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura says he is preparing a 14 billion yen (US$124 million) supplementary budget proposal for the city council as an initial step toward funding construction efforts for the 2025 World Expo.

Technology

—Japanese government planning to begin tests of flying cars next year with the aim of putting them into practical service by the mid-2020s, especially in mountain areas and on remote islands. The plan calls for these cars to ultimately become drones that fly without drivers.

Society

—Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan calls on the Abe government to revise its immigration bill to allow foreign workers to gain permanent residency and a guarantee of equal pay with Japanese: “They are real people, not just a workforce.”

—Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau offended by graffiti calling for better treatment of refugees. The graffiti upsets them, but the disgraceful official policies seem not to move them at all.

—Ray Chavez, the last person who directly experienced the Pearl Harbor attack while serving in the US military, died yesterday at age 106 in California.

—Researchers recently tested the water of 29 rivers in Japan and found microplastics floating in 26 of them. It is a mostly invisible but serious form of pollution in the environment.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between November 16 and November 24.

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