Carlos Ghosn’s prolonged detention under what critics see as Japan’s opaque and draconian legal system has alarmed foreign executives and sparked questions over the country’s ability to attract overseas talent. Some in the expat business community believe the French-Brazilian-Lebanese tycoon, the once-revered chairman of Nissan, has been the victim of unfair harshness because he is a foreigner. “The way Ghosn is treated seems completely out of proportion compared to the way Japanese executives are treated,” said one Tokyo-based French businessperson, who asked not to be named. This businessperson pointed to a series of massive accounting scandals at Toshiba during which Japanese executives avoided criminal charges. In contrast, Ghosn has languished in a Tokyo detention centre for more than 50 days as he fights a string of allegations of financial misconduct. The court has banned his family from visiting, allowing only contact with his lawyers and diplomats. The detained executive was initially kept in a tiny room with Japanese-style tatami for sleeping — sparking outrage from abroad. He has now been moved to a larger room and has a Western-style bed, according to his lawyer Motonari Otsuru “It gives the impression of double standards, as if (Ghosn) was being treated this way because he is a foreigner. I do not see how they are going to attract qualified foreigners,” the person told AFP. “Ghosn was an icon, a symbol of French success and this has poured cold water on quite a few ambitions from young trainees — at least those training for careers in business and management.” The detained executive was initially kept in a tiny room with Japanese-style tatami for sleeping — sparking outrage from abroad. He has now been moved to a larger room and has a Western-style bed, according to his lawyer Motonari Otsuru. But even Otsuru has dampened expectations his client could be released any time soon, suggesting it could be six months until a trial and stressing that bail is unlikely in such cases. ‘People are worried’ Many in Japan have voiced surprise that foreigners have criticised their legal system and prosecutors have reacted angrily, saying they are playing by the rules in place. “This is a specific case,” said Seiji Nakata, head of Daiwa Securities. “I am in contact with foreign bosses and they have not voiced any pessimism on the subject”. But Ghosn dominates talk in expat business circles and while foreign investors are not yet rushing to leave Tokyo, the case has worried executives who fear they may unknowingly face legal troubles even if they think they are operating legally. Published in Daily Times, January 11th 2019.