BEIRUT—Fugitive fallen auto titan Carlos Ghosn says he can't get a fair trial in Japan, so he has taken his case to the international court of public opinion.
And the media-savvy showman was in back in prime form as he held court for nearly two and a half hours in a barn-burning press conference. Ghosn answered questions in English, French, Arabic and Portuguese as he played to his international bases and trash-talked Japan Inc.
Peppering his spirited defense with trademark finger-pointing, raised hands and other gesticulations, an emotional Ghosn even managed to work in a Pearl Harbor reference.
Ghosn conceded he never saw the moves to arrest him brewing behind his back in 2018, much the way Americans never saw the Japanese surprise attack.
"Did you notice what happened in Pearl Harbor?" Ghosn said.
'No more alliance'
The former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance clearly had the international audience in mind as he bashed Japan's judicial system as a rigged farce and lambasted the sorry state of Renault and Nissan since his stunning arrest in Tokyo in November 2018.
"There is no more alliance," Ghosn quipped at one point.
Ghosn's team admitted select media from around the world, but only a handful from Japan. Ghosn was unapologetic about the underrepresentation. He said most Japanese media had simply been repeating fake narratives spoon-fed to them by Japanese prosecutors.
"Frankly, introducing people who are really for the prosecutor propaganda is not any advantage to me," Ghosn said. "I want people who can analyze the facts."
Ghosn, dressed in a dark suit and red tie, showed flashes of the charisma that made him such a potent company frontman. He ad-libbed, cracked jokes and even waded into the mobbed press room to take questions in a scrum-like atmosphere, calling out journalists in different languages.
Flanked by bodyguards
Ghosn was escorted into the room by bodyguards through a crush of photographers and was protected by a bodyguard wall during a brief break before the question-and-answer period.
Sitting front and center throughout the affair was Ghosn's wife, Carole, perhaps his most outspoken champion through his legal odyssey. Just a day earlier, Japanese prosecutors secured an arrest warrant for her for allegedly giving false statements in court last April.
Just as he did during his days as an industry highflier, Ghosn never veered off message.
He gave an impassioned criticism of his treatment at the hands of Japan's justice system and focused on his contributions to the country by saving Nissan from bankruptcy in 1999.
"Why Japan is repaying me with evil, for the good that I did to the country?" he said.
"I am used to what you call 'Mission Impossible.' When I went to Japan in 1999, they said, 'You will never make it,' " Ghosn said. "I can do a lot, and I want to clear my name."