It was not just the media who were shocked at the manner in which the deposed former CEO was being treated. In France, politicians stepped up the initiatives to mark the first anniversary of Carlos Ghosn’s arrest in Japan.
For example, while representing Emmanuel Macron at the inauguration of the Japanese Emperor – and with the agreement of the French President – his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy paid a visit Carlos Ghosn. Virtually no details were released of what was discussed at this one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, organised through the offices of the French Ambassador to Japan, apart from the following statement released by the former French President: “I would have considered it inappropriate to go there and not to see him”
Nicolas Sarkozy then held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and, according to the JDD newspaper “he expressed the incomprehension felt in France at the harshness of the Japanese legal system.”
This echoed the appeal launched by around 60 parliamentary deputies from French right and centre parties, including a number of parliamentary leaders such as Christian Jacob and Bruno Retailleau for Les Républicains and Anne Genetet (LREM). They all castigated the Japanese legal system and demanded that Carlos Ghosn be brought back to France to stand trial.
These deputies and senators stressed that “what was really going on amounted to economic warfare aimed at getting rid of French stewardship over Nissan.” They also asserted that Carlos Ghosn had to contend with “a carefully staged arrest designed to give extensive media coverage to the downfall of a global business icon. Carlos Ghosn is not above the law, but he does at least deserve the protection of the law.” France 2 television ascribed these political initiatives to the harsh conditions imposed on Carlos Ghosn in Japan.
Nevertheless, on the day on which these two articles were was published, the French government, represented by Bruno Le Maire, the Minister for the Economy and Finance, preferred to defend a morally bankrupt legal system instead of providing a few words of encouragement to a French citizen caught up in the web of this system. Responding to the criticism of parliamentarians, and in contrast to the position of Nicolas Sarkozy, who represented the French President in Japan, Le Maire explained on TV that “it is not my role to interfere in the justice system of a friendly nation like Japan”.
So, while the official position of the French government did not budge, behind the scenes, the agitation was such that diplomatic channels were being activated and meetings organised