Carlos Ghosn 'fled by bullet train', Japan promises to strengthen borders

TOKYO: New reports emerged on Monday about how runaways former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail in Japan, as the country's justice minister said border controls would be strengthened after the escape.

The 65-year-old executive skipped bail almost a week ago, fleeing Japan, where he was awaiting trial on multiple charges of financial misconduct he denies.

The details of his escape remain irregular, and Japan says it is still investigating how it overlooked the strict security measures imposed as part of its bail conditions.

Citing sources close to the investigation, public broadcaster NHK said Monday that Ghosn left his residence alone on the afternoon of December 29 and met two men in a Tokyo hotel.

The three then boarded a shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Shinagawa Station to a station in western Osaka, arriving around 7:30 pm.

The trio then checked into a hotel near Kansai airport, but only the two men who accompanied Ghosn were caught by a security camera that left the hotel later in the evening, NHK said.

They carried two large boxes that customs personnel did not check at the airport, the report added.

It is believed that Ghosn took a private plane from the airport that night, bound for Istanbul, where he changed planes and continued to Beirut.

But many details of his departure from Japan are still shrouded in mystery.

The justice ministry said it had no records of Ghosn leaving Japan.

It is believed that he used some illegal methods to leave the country illegally, Justice Minister Masako Mori said at a press conference on Monday.

I have instructed the immigration agency to further tighten the exit process, he added.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ghosn was loaded on the flight from Osaka in a large box for audio equipment, which was later found in the back of the cabin.

The newspaper quoted anonymous sources close to the investigation in Turkey saying that holes had been drilled in the bottom of the container to ensure the businessman could breathe. Japan's transport ministry told AFP that baggage checks are not mandatory for private planes.

Private aircraft operators decide whether baggage checks are necessary or not, while airline operators are required to carry out security checks under Japanese aviation law, a ministry official told AFP.

Security checks are carried out to avoid dangers such as bombs and to hijack, he said, adding that such risks are considered less likely for private planes.

Ghosn, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities, was able to enter Lebanon with a French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.

A court in Tokyo allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport, as he needed one to travel within Japan, a source close to the matter told AFP.

Japan launched an investigation into the humiliating security period and prosecutors said they would coordinate with the relevant agencies to investigate the matter quickly and appropriately. Ghosn has promised to give his own account at a highly anticipated press conference in Beirut this week.