TOKYO — Locked in his tiny, spartan Tokyo detention cell last week, one of the most powerful men in the auto industry was surviving on meals of rice and likely being subjected to hours of relentless interrogation in the absence of his lawyers.
The stunning reversal of fortune for Carlos Ghosn, until last month the chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi, and still CEO of Renault and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, highlights big differences in Japan's legal system from the U.S. It also shows how the deck is stacked against suspects in a country that boasts a 99 percent conviction rate.
The man hailed for saving Nissan 19 years ago now sits in Tokyo's Kosuge detention center. It is the same jail where Shoko Asahara, the bearded cult leader responsible for Tokyo's deadly 1995 subway sarin gas attack, was first imprisoned, then hanged in July.
Life there is distressing by design.
For suspects such as Ghosn, who has yet to be formally charged despite being arrested two weeks ago, dehumanizing discipline aims to break the will and coax a confession, said attorney Megumi Wada, who represents an American client in the same facility.