As soon as the evening of 19 November, the Japanese government through its spokesperson Yoshihide Suga, judges “the situation extremely regrettable”.

In France, the first reaction comes from Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of an official visit to Belgium, who states that:

« It is too early to make a decision. The State – which holds 15% of Renault’s shares – will be extremely vigilant as regards the stability of the French carmaker and the alliance with Nissan”.».


The same type of language comes from Bruno Le Maire, Minister for the Economy and Finance, who adds:

“The primary concern of the State is the stability of Renault and the consolidation of the alliance between Renault and Nissan”.

Consular assistance is nevertheless provided to Carlos Ghosn in Kosuge prison by Laurent Pic, the French Ambassador to Japan.

However, the presumption of innocence, which is a fundamental right in France, is rapidly replaced by a presumption of guilt by the Japanese hostage justice system.

The day after Carlos Ghosn’s arrest, on 20 November 2018, Bruno Le Maire, Minister for the Economy and Finance, as a guest on France Info, states that:

“We are not going to ask for the formal removal of Carlos Ghosn from the board of directors (of Renault) for a simple reason: we do not have any proof and we are a law-abiding state. We are going to call the Japanese Minister of the Economy to ask that we receive all of the information that was supplied by Nissan to the Japanese justice system”

Bruno Le Maire – Minister for the Economy (France)

The phone conversation between the French and Japanese ministers of the economy concludes with a declation that “the two countries are committed to maintaining successful industrial cooperation”.

Nothing specific relating to Carlos Ghosn.

In addition, the French Minister shows continued indifference to Carlos Ghosn despite the fact that he was congratulating him 10 days earlier while accompanying Emmanuel Macron on a visit to the Renault factory at Maubeuge.

Furthermore, Bruno Le Maire makes an unfortunate association while speaking to the media about tax evasion even though he clarifies that there is nothing to flag regarding the tax position of Carlos Ghosn in France:

“We have with Gérald Darmanin asked our teams to check Carlos Ghosn’s tax position in France. There is nothing to flag about Mr Ghosn’s tax position in France”.

Bruno Le Maire – Minister for the Economy (France)

To be clear, this case has never been about tax evasion (nor in Japan neither in France).

In summary, the Ghosn case is troublesome from a political perspective. Rather than trying to find a solution, diplomatic channels recommend reiterating France and Japan’s commitment to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in a joint press release on 23 November 2018.