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Thursday, June 13, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s hard to honor your father on Father’s Day when he’s in a faraway country, and held hostage by a justice system that put him in solitary confinement for over 130 days on baseless accusations of financial crimes. It’s even harder when you had long considered that country, Japan, your home.

We are the children of Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. We are grateful to have a father who has loved us unconditionally, provided us with unwavering support and fostered our love for new places and cultures. But we are devastated that he has been victimized by forces that run counter to everything he has represented — a more multicultural, interconnected and transparent business world.


When we were young, our father informed us that we were once again moving across the world — this time to Japan, from our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.

Although we had fears of starting over in a new country, he reassured us that we would love Japan and that it would be an unforgettable opportunity for us all.

He was right. Before we knew it, road signs and labels became legible, yakitori became our weekend ritual and we joined hundreds of other school-age children in riding the train alone from home to school and back again.

We also were proud to see our father excel in a job he loved. He stayed strong and took pride in taking the helm at Nissan at a time when many others wouldn’t have dared. He did so because from his core, he believed in Nissan. He also believed in Japan.

And our father was right. Working alongside thousands of employees, he helped turn Nissan around, restoring its reputation as one of the best automakers in the world. Even as he took on additional roles, he was always a fierce advocate for Nissan’s best interest.

But on Nov. 19, 2018, the company that my father dedicated so much of his life to betrayed him. Within minutes of landing in Tokyo that day — in what can only be called an ambush — prosecutors arrested him. That was followed by 108 days in solitary confinement, orchestrated by conspirators within Nissan who were trying to block a merger between Nissan and Renault that our father supported. These conspirators continue to mislead prosecutors in their effort to get rid of my father and ruin his hard-earned reputation. They have been spreading lie after lie — from falsely accusing him of financial wrongdoing to claiming that he did not love Nissan or the Japanese people— all of which we know couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, when our father was arrested, he was so concerned about the impact on the company that his first and only call was to Nissan.

Since that awful day, our father has been unjustly detained for over 130 days and arrested no fewer than four times. During his detention, Japanese prosecutors interrogated him at all hours of the day and night without an attorney present, in a blatant effort to coerce him into confessing to crimes he did not commit.

He has been falsely accused of financial wrongdoing. He also has been denied the presumption of innocence in a system that practices what is known by experts as “hostage justice.”

Our father hasn’t been the only target of this draconian judicial system. Many Westerners have suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of the Japanese system. Recently, Julian Adame, a 22-year-old college student, was imprisoned for nearly a year for breaking a lamp. Before that, a senior executive at Toyota, Julie Hamp, was imprisoned for nearly a month for receiving prescription medicines she needed for knee pain.

We should expect more from a G7 nation that will be hosting the Olympics next year.

Our father was recently released on bail for a second time. But his restrictions are cruel. He is banned from seeing his wife, Carole, and he is banned from communicating with her in any way. In addition, we must now prepare for a trial in a rigged system with a 99.9 percent conviction rate.

As his children, we are worried sick. We are also angry that a country we think of as home is, in fact, a violator of basic human rights. Japan has committed to international agreements and treaties that demand better of it. Our Father’s Day wish is that it will rise to those commitments. Our Father’s Day vow is that we will work to secure our father’s freedom and expose this unjust system.

We’ve been encouraged by the support we’ve received from people in Japan and around the world, including human rights observers, legal experts, business leaders and the general public. We seek two things: The elimination of bans on family contact that were put in place solely to punish our father and a fair trial so that he can have a real opportunity to prove his innocence and regain his freedom.

• Anthony, Maya, Nadine and Caroline Ghosn are the children of Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman and CEO of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.


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