Thursday, January 09, 2020

Japan’s Justice System Flamed Like Italy’s - But This Time (Sort Of) From The Inside

Posted by Peter Quennell

1. The Flaming Of The Italian System

The flaming of Italy’s justice system in “the Knox case” did not ever happen within Italy.

It happened for the most part trans-Atlantic. And it was not even beamed at Italy: it was beamed at American and British TV audiences and tabloid readers.

And of course it was wildly inaccurate. Italy rates high on public safety, fairness of the court system, and rehabilitation of those in prison. Its murder and incarceration rates are about 1/7th of the US’s.

Meanwhile this three-part series in part explains why there are such vast numbers in prison under the American system, which maybe does merit flaming.

To the extent that either system gravitates, it is the US system that gravitates, toward the more effective Italian system.

2. The Flaming Of The Japanese System

Everybody likes Japan’s cars and electronics, its culture, its scenery, its sushi and teriyaki… In most respects its national brand management really is excellent.

Helpful when Japan is just six months from hosting the Summer Olympics.

But periodically, as now, a spotlight is shone on the seeming over-harshness of its justice system.

Italy and Japan were of course allies in World War Two.

Post-war, Italy revamped its constitution and entire justice system to bend over backward to favor defendants.

But Japan did none of that, and its 99% conviction rate and the methods used to sustain that have been repeatedly criticized.

The sort-of-accused former CEO of Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has just been much in the news, for dramatically fleeing Japan in a private jet, and seeking sanctuary in his country of origin, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

At Japan’s request Interpol has issued a global Red Notice (a measure we posted on when it seemed Knox might flee extradition.)

Ghosn seems to have single-handedly saved Nissan from extinction by semi-merging it with Renault and by heavy cost-cutting rare within Japanese corporations.

His remuneration was always peanuts by American standards.

Ghosn’s main accuser that he feathered his own nest was actually his own successor at Nissan - who was accused of the exact-same thing a few months ago and forced to resign also!

Here below are some of Ghosn’s accusations against Japanese justice; in Tokyo yesterday the Justice Minister promised statements to explain and defend Japanese justice and to show what Ghosn had allegedly been up to.

Yahoo News Website

Japan’s legal system came under the spotlight when Carlos Ghosn launched a vigorous self-defence in his first public appearance since jumping bail and fleeing to Lebanon.

The former Renault-Nissan chief slammed everything from the country’s sky-high conviction rate to the conditions he faced during 130 days of pre-trial detention.

Here are some of his main criticisms, and how Japanese officials respond:

- 99 percent conviction rate -

When it comes to convictions, Japanese prosecutors boast a success rate that their peers around the world might consider enviable.

They win more than 99 percent of the cases they bring to trial, and Ghosn cited this astonishing rate as evidence that he would not get a fair hearing.

“I was facing a system where the conviction rate is 99.4 percent,” he said, claiming that the rate for foreigners was likely even higher.

Japan does not dispute that its prosecutors win almost all of the cases they bring to trial, but says this is simply evidence that they do not start legal action lightly.

Prosecutors “only indict a suspect where there is a high likelihood of a court’s conviction based on sufficient evidence, so as to avoid an innocent person (having) to suffer,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said in response to Ghosn’s criticism.

“It is wrong to argue that a person cannot obtain a fair judgement because of the high conviction rate in Japan.”

- Lengthy pre-trial detention -

Ghosn spent more than four months in detention over two periods after his shock November 2018 arrest, with the first stint lasting a full 108 days before he finally won bail.

He and legal team referred to the extended periods of detention as “hostage justice”, arguing the prosecutors were trying to break his will and force him to confess to financial misconduct charges that he continues to deny.

He said he felt “subject to a system whose only objective is to coerce confessions, secure guilty pleas.”

Japan’s legal system allows for long periods of detention before a trial begins, and critics at home and abroad have argued that prosecutors hold suspects before indicting them as a tool to extract confessions.

Prosecutors fought hard to keep Ghosn behind bars, arguing that he could flee if released because of his extensive financial means and international contacts.

“Ghosn was deemed a high flight risk, which is obvious from the fact that he actually fled and illegally departed the country,” prosecutors said after the tycoon’s Wednesday press conference.

- Detention conditions -

Ghosn slammed the conditions he experienced at the Tokyo Detention House in Kosuge, saying he was interrogated around the clock without his lawyer, held in a cell where the lights never went out and only allowed to shower twice a week.

Japanese prisons are not usually singled out for criticism by international rights groups, with violence rare and individual cells of about 6.5 square metres (70 square feet) or slightly larger.

Officials defend the rules governing interrogations, saying questioning is videotaped and suspects can refuse to answer questions. Those in detention also have the right to meet their lawyers outside of interrogations.

- Strict bail terms -

When Ghosn finally won bail for a second time, his release came with strict conditions: surveillance of his home, access to the internet at his lawyer’s office only, and restrictions on his contact with his wife Carole.

Prosecutors argued that she was party to one of the charges and the couple could tamper with evidence. Ghosn had to get court permission before contacting her via video conference, which he was able to do just twice.

And they said the strict rules were necessary to prevent him from fleeing the country.

Ghosn slammed the conditions as vindicative, saying prosecutors specifically blocked access to Carole to “break” him and that his decision to flee was motivated in large part by the rule.

3. Japan’s Promised Explanations

In fairness, we’ll post again if clarifications beyond those above are forthcoming.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/09/20 at 10:07 AM in


Japan is not handling this well. Japan’s Justice Minister has come out and said Ghosn should have stayed and “proved” his innocence.

That quite rightly caused conniptions in human right groups worldwide, as “innocent until proven guilty by the state” is the global norm. The Minister had to eat his words.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/10/20 at 02:39 PM | #

On the corporate finance side, this looks like an “own goal” aka “shooting oneself in both feet”: Nissan’s market capitalization had surged when Ghosn was CEO. Then he was arrested; and the market cap has dropped over $10 billion since.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/10/20 at 02:57 PM | #

Ghosn himself is still worth an estimated $70 million, but he did forfeit $14 million in bail (a record?) and the escape may have cost him $15 million.

That includes US$350,000 for the private jet that spirited the former auto executive from Osaka to Istanbul and millions of dollars for his multi-country extraction that would have taken a team of as many as 25 people half a year to plan, according to a private security expert who said he wasn’t involved and asked not to be identified given the nature of the operation.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/10/20 at 02:57 PM | #

The US has said an extradition request for the woman charged with the death of teenager Harry Dunn is “highly inappropriate”.

Anne Sacoolas killed Harry Dunn because she was driving recklessly. She then falsely claimed she had diplomatic immunity and fled England.

The US Department of State needs to realise that US citizens abroad are not above the law just because they’re American. It should also stop interfering in the legal proceedings against Americans charged with offences in foreign countries.

Amanda Knox and ASAP Rocky can thank the US Department of State for coming to their rescue and it looks like it will prevent Anne Sacolooas from being extradited.

Posted by The Machine on 01/11/20 at 02:12 PM | #

There is some frustration and lack of sympathy for her here also - wait a while, she might simply head back voluntarily (or with a Trump nudge).

However, the official US reaction so far that you quote suggests she really does have diplomatic immunity (kids can have it too) and her husband might be the #1 or #2 CIA official in London, under cover as a First Secretary.

If this is so, it’s possible the UK government is not telling the full story and may be pulling its punches.

For example when she moved to London your Foreign Office would have accepted to assure her that immunity. And the husband at minimum and maybe the Ambassador would definitely have been a party to her flight. 

Some major context to the slow action and frustration over here is that the US hosts by far the largest diplomatic community in the world.

There are maybe 500 embassies, consulates and missions to the UN. NYC is full of them, over 200. This suggests to me upward of 5000 officials with immunity PLUS families.

Every year, there are crimes, sometimes crimes of violence, committed against Americans like those described here.

The US has had a long history of simply accepting to follow the Vienna Convention, however unfair on the victim and family, when any do commit crimes here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/11/20 at 04:07 PM | #

At the political level Brexit and impeachment may be the causes of some possible pussyfooting going on.

From this article it seems that that Sacolas’s husband was not London embassy staff, and that his claimed immunity does look odd.

Also that she did not even live in England, and could have been driving on the “wrong” side of the road for almost the first time - even if she was over her jetlag one still fights at times to keep driving “wrong”.

The Crown Prosecutor and family seem to me to have a real shot at some justice: the CP by arranging an Interpol Red Notice so that Mrs Sacolas can never leave the US without fear of arrest; the family via a wrongful-death lawsuit within the US.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/11/20 at 08:36 PM | #

Anne Bremner is claiming she won the TV and social media case:

“Amanda Knox and Justice in the Age of Judgement is Bremner’s story of how she drew upon all her experience to win a new kind of case—the TV and social media case—and prove Rudy Guede had acted alone in killing Kercher.”

In reality, Anne Bremner cynically used Amanda Knox’s arrest and subsequent conviction to promote herself on television. She assumed Knox is innocent because she’s an American woman from a middle-class background and she repeatedly made numerous false claims about the case. Fortunately, she went into hiding after she was caught drinking and driving and was sent to the slammer.

Anne Bremner is claiming Amanda Knox was exonerated - which proves she still hasn’t read Judge Marasca’s Supreme Court report.

Posted by The Machine on 01/12/20 at 03:52 AM | #

If someone incriminates themselves in a police interview without a parent or lawyer present, it should still be used as evidence against the suspect.

Charges against a murder suspect in Australia were dropped because the suspect was 17 years old and didn’t have adult representation when he made statements in a police interview.

If this had happened in another country e.g. America, the suspect would have been prosecuted for murder.

Posted by The Machine on 01/12/20 at 07:49 AM | #

Hi Machine

Yes, on Anne Bremner’s book, due out in 2 months, scroll down to previous discussion in July 2019 here?

The situation seems to remain unchanged (except we are more loaded for bear, and will be going public before she does).

Our next post is a compendium of previous posts showing that Guede did NOT attack Meredith alone, as John Douglas, Heavey & Moore wrongly claimed in 2012, and as Malcolm Gladwell wrongly claimed in 2019.

And as Anne Bremner seems suicidally intent on doing here.

Numerous past posts by yourself & others have shown how she serially gets the facts wrong.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/12/20 at 09:36 AM | #

Anne Bremner should have dropped Knox like a hot potato. She was caught up in the Nina Burleigh Fatal Beauty nonsense, while at same time competing with Nancy Grace.

Bremner was dragged down by the Knox case. Then her brother started posting pro-Knox nonsense to prop his sister up (Before You Take That Pill blog), and the stress of it probably led Anne to the drunk driving fiasco which she lied about.

Knox a Typhoid Mary did her no good, yet Anne persists. She writes a useless book about the dodgy Seattle nut full of inaccuracies.

Is Anne invited to the too-late wedding of the already married couple next month? Will pro-Knox influencers attend if they pay for photo rights or right to throw stones oops I mean rice or birdseed? Will there be noise violations and naked bodies draped over furniture and police called to issue Knox more fines? And then a beautiful fake honeymoon as the couple jet off to Italy? In disguise, no doubt. Will Edda and Curt attend wearing masks and sweating it out, glad when the charade is over?

Posted by Hopeful on 01/16/20 at 02:03 PM | #

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