Japan orders tighter immigration procedures after Ghosn flees country


FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Renault, attends the company’s annual shareholders meeting in La Defense business district, near Paris, April 29, 2008. French carmaker Renault sticks to its target of a 2008 operating profit margin of 4.5 percent, despite a weaker dollar and pound and a faster than forecast rise in raw material prices, Ghosn told the annual general meeting. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan ordered stricter immigration procedures on Sunday in response to the daring escape of ousted Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) boss Carlos Ghosn, the first official response to an episode that has rocked the nation’s legal system.

“I have instructed the Immigration Services Agency to coordinate with related agencies to further tighten departure procedures,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said in a statement.

Ghosn’s “apparently illegal” departure was very regrettable, she said, promising a thorough investigation to uncover truth and adding that there was no record of his leaving Japan.

Mori said that Ghosn’s skipping bail cannot be justified and that the court has revoked his bail. Ghosn is facing four charges of financial irregularities from his time at Japan’s No. 2 carmaker, all of which he denies.

Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes.

Tokyo prosecutors, in a separate statement, sought to justify Japan’s criminal-justice system, where long detention times before indictment and questioning without lawyers have been criticized as “hostage justice” meant to extract confessions.

Japan’s legal system guarantees all defendants a prompt, open and fair trial, the prosecutors said, defending Ghosn’s more than 100 days of detention on the grounds that he “had an extensive domestic and overseas network and that he could deploy his considerable influence to conceal evidence.”

Reporting by Tim Kelly and Junko Fujita.; Writing by Junko Fujita and William Mallard; Editing by Gerry Doyle

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