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  #1  
Old 01-09-2020, 04:57 PM
Tatterdemalion is offline
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Carlos Ghosn. I'm not sure what to think


So I have been following this whole thing with Carlos Ghosn for a while now, and I have some seriously mixed feelings about the whole thing.

A recent report.

Apparently he is accused of fiddling his taxes, misusing company assets for personal gain, and under-reporting his income.

On the one hand, the low class peasant in me likes to see a multi-millionaire who (possibly) committed a felony being treated like a felon.

On the other hand, it really does seem like he got a pretty raw deal. His argument that he was just playing the game by the rules in force in Japan, and his Japanese associates aren't getting the same treatment seems to have some merit.

If we take Ghosn's statements at face value, he was not unjustified in running.

On the other hand, taking it on the lam generally does make one look guilty.

And on yet the third hand, my own personal experience in traveling to Japan suggests that, yes a foreigner isn't going to get a fair shake from Japanese officialdom.

And on the gripping hand; So it's a falling out among thieves, why should I care?

So, like I said, I have some mixed feelings about the whole thing.

What do you all think?
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:05 PM
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I'm in the same boat. But I just read the Wikipedia article on Japan's high conviction rate, and it throws me even deeper into the mire of feeling like I don't know what's going on here....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimin...onviction_rate
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:15 PM
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That low class peasant in me tends, when seeing a fox hunt, to root for the fox.

I just feel a little queasy about rooting for someone like Ghosn.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:39 PM
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I'm in the same boat. But I just read the Wikipedia article on Japan's high conviction rate, and it throws me even deeper into the mire of feeling like I don't know what's going on here....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimin...onviction_rate
Their methodology (on which I read up this week in relation to this case) is shady and scary. Lock you up until you confess? Refile after a non-guilty verdict? Modify and refile after time expires? Ugh.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:45 PM
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I'm in the same boat. But I just read the Wikipedia article on Japan's high conviction rate, and it throws me even deeper into the mire of feeling like I don't know what's going on here....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimin...onviction_rate
Their methodology (on which I read up this week in relation to this case) is shady and scary. Lock you up until you confess? Refile after a non-guilty verdict? Modify and refile after time expires? Ugh.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:53 PM
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Ghosn was a pawn used for his ability to do what was considered unseemly in Japanese business society to fix Nisans's problems. (i.e. fire people and disrupt interconnections, etc.)

Japanese can't stand to be dictated to by foreigners so once he finished his mission he was fed to the sharks. Same pattern as Michael Woodford in Olympus but a bit different. In Olympus he was hired as a fake CEO (with no real power) as a smoke screen distractor to distract the public from their financial crimes.

The police arrested Ghosn because Nisan management told them to. It only came to light later that the police had no evidence of any crime, so they kept him arrested hoping for a confession. There were questionable transactions by Ghosn, sure, but all the other Japanese management had done similar things, but none of them went to jail. They just paid a fine.

Ghosn is innocent of any crimes in Japan, but he was arrested because of racism.

Last edited by Isamu; 01-09-2020 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:14 PM
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Could you imagine having that much power over the police? Getting them to arrest someone you don't like because of incoherent reasons.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:22 PM
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multi-millionaire who (possibly) committed a felony being treated like a felon.
Not to be harsh on you at all, but what felony do you think he possibly committed? Please be specific.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:27 PM
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That's an interesting perspective.

I can easily understand that he was arrested because of racism. I find it harder to believe that he was innocent of any crimes in Japan.

Behind a paywall

He seems to have committed financial improprieties in the US and France as well.

Japan's justice system sounds pretty scary though.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:32 PM
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The articles I have read state pretty clearly that he allegedly under reported his income for tax purposes and diverted company resources to personal uses.

The sums involved are allegedly in the multiple 100s of millions.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:36 PM
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That's an interesting perspective.

I can easily understand that he was arrested because of racism. I find it harder to believe that he was innocent of any crimes in Japan.
How can I put this in a way that you will understand? Japan has laws that regard financial dealings. These laws are routinely flouted, daily, as a matter of course, three times before breakfast and without a single raised eyebrow. I don't know why that is the system, but it serves two purposes. ONE, on an international stage you can point to the laws as showing how honest your society is, and TWO, you can throw anyone under the bus at any time.

Live and learn.

Last edited by Isamu; 01-09-2020 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:38 PM
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The articles I have read state pretty clearly that he allegedly under reported his income for tax purposes and diverted company resources to personal uses.

The sums involved are allegedly in the multiple 100s of millions.
He did not report a negotiated future income. Which you don't have to do until you receive the income. It is that simple. Not guilty.

He diverted funds to a related organization. That happens every minute in every large Japanese company.

Last edited by Isamu; 01-09-2020 at 10:38 PM.
  #13  
Old 01-09-2020, 10:51 PM
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The articles I read (and linked to) suggest that there is more to it than that (allegedly). Apparently one of the related organizations was a car dealership owned by a friend.

Also the claim that the under reporting of income was only regarding future income is in dispute.

I don't find the claim that everybody else was doing it too to be at all surprising.

I just think that if there is any injustice here, it's that the rest of the C-suite isn't in the dock with him. And I think that a great injustice indeed.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:54 PM
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The articles I read (and linked to) suggest that there is more to it than that (allegedly). Apparently one of the related organizations was a car dealership owned by a friend.

Also the claim that the under reporting of income was only regarding future income is in dispute.

I don't find the claim that everybody else was doing it too to be at all surprising.

I just think that if there is any injustice here, it's that the rest of the C-suite isn't in the dock with him. And I think that a great injustice indeed.
I basically agree with you. I would add that he couldn't have done any of these supposed illicit transactions without it being OK'ed by the legal team and the board of directors. So they are all complicit. And he doesn't do his own taxes, so whoever was doing that for him is responsible for what they did or didn't report.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:35 PM
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The succeeding CEO Saikawa says that it was a nationalist uprising from within the company that ousted Ghosn. (For those who don't know, the press can never say "racist" in Japan, but nationalist means the same thing here)

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/...hief-1.4099071
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:54 AM
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I think that was implicit in some of the other reporting on the matter.

It seems clear that Ghosn got a raw deal. But he deserved it. But so did a lot of people who didn't get caught.

Like I said, I'm conflicted.

It raineth on the just,
And on the unjust fellow.
But mostly on the just,
Because the unjust steals the just's umbrella.
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:42 AM
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I'm not sure anyone deserves a raw deal. People deserve justice. But the police delayed everything and would not charge him or begin proceedings. No due process so he escaped and forfeit his bond money (13 million) as well as a lot of property he probably had in Japan.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:18 AM
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someone told me that if I ever went to japan to remember one rule in japan is " lots of stuff are illegal but its only a crime if done by a foreigner "
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:39 AM
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Isamu, thanks for your insight, very interesting. We conclude then that the Japanese justice system is deeply institutionally racist, yes?

What does this mean for investing in Japan? I have a very small proportion of my pension invested in a Japan fund (run from the UK) because I believe it's a good place to invest. But this thread has made me question this somewhat. Like, is there a decent chance of the whole edifice crashing down in some way? I guess not - vested interests usually prevail.
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Old 01-10-2020, 05:13 AM
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He probably is no Saint but he wasn't going to get a fair shake as far as I can tell. I think it's pretty badass actually that he was able to escape custody.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:02 AM
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Isamu, thanks for your insight, very interesting. We conclude then that the Japanese justice system is deeply institutionally racist, yes?

What does this mean for investing in Japan? I have a very small proportion of my pension invested in a Japan fund (run from the UK) because I believe it's a good place to invest. But this thread has made me question this somewhat. Like, is there a decent chance of the whole edifice crashing down in some way? I guess not - vested interests usually prevail.
I would not worry about your Japanese investments. The cross-shareholding between corporations in Japan actually make the institutions more robust than in most other countries.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:17 AM
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How can I put this in a way that you will understand? Japan has laws that regard financial dealings. These laws are routinely flouted, daily, as a matter of course, three times before breakfast and without a single raised eyebrow. I don't know why that is the system, but it serves two purposes. ONE, on an international stage you can point to the laws as showing how honest your society is, and TWO, you can throw anyone under the bus at any time.

Live and learn.
Yes. Japanese auto parts suppliers have been busted more than once in the US for price fixing, because the kinds of back-room “gentlemen’s agreements” they’re accustomed to in Japan are illegal as all hell here.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:52 AM
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I'm not sure anyone deserves a raw deal. People deserve justice. But the police delayed everything and would not charge him or begin proceedings. No due process so he escaped and forfeit his bond money (13 million) as well as a lot of property he probably had in Japan.
The thing is, from my perspective, the treatment Ghosn got would be considered a raw deal here in the US for someone with money and lawyers. For your common or garden variety armed robber (minority), it would be par for the course.

My feelings on the matter veer between, "Nobody should be treated like that," and "Good to see a white collar criminal getting the business for once."

I'm also not sure we here in the US should be too smug about our supposed superiority to the Japanese system. Especially now in the era of Trump, but it's not exactly a new thing either. The big difference is that we don't treat foreigners with money that way.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:23 AM
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I'm also not sure we here in the US should be too smug about our supposed superiority to the Japanese system. Especially now in the era of Trump, but it's not exactly a new thing either. The big difference is that we don't treat foreigners with money that way.
I'm not sure if this is relative privation or whataboutism, or even just mealy-mouth wishy-washyness, but yes I'm comfortable with the belief our justice system is in general much better than theirs. We at least notionally hold innocent until proven guilty, place the burden on the state to prove a defendant's guilt, and in most cases don't allow indefinite jailing of someone based solely on an accusation. Yes, we do have bad actors here and there who break those rules, but the system is at least structured against it.

in contrast the Japanese system (and culture) breeds the idea that if the prosecutor doesn't get a conviction, or the police don't extract a confession, then they haven't done their jobs and have lost face. That leads to something that isn't a "justice" system, it's a "throw people in jail" system.

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My feelings on the matter veer between, "Nobody should be treated like that," and "Good to see a white collar criminal getting the business for once."
the latter is simply using the "justice" system for revenge. if you're going to moralize about the way the US does things you might not want to entertain that idea yourself.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:27 AM
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"Good to see a white collar criminal getting the business for once."
.
I think we need to get past the part where we first establish that he is a criminal, and then I will join you in feeling good about a fat-cat getting caught.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:39 AM
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I am not a juror in the case, therefore I can draw conclusions from the general reporting. If I were called as a juror, I would be obliged to refrain from judgement, but I am only some guy on a message board.

In my opinion, it has been established by a preponderance of the reporting that Ghosn did commit financial improprieties that could rise to a criminal level.

If he had used a gun in his activities, and didn't have a hundred million in the bank, his treatment would not be at all unusual, and not necessarily unjustified.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:19 AM
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I think we need to get past the part where we first establish that he is a criminal, and then I will join you in feeling good about a fat-cat getting caught.
Well, isn't that what a trial is about? Other than the issue of his colleagues having it in for him since he is non-Japanese (which is totally plausible and also reprehensible) the main point I think you have raised in his defense is that everyone does similar things.

That's not a very compelling argument: "But officer, don't you know how much other crime is going on in this neighborhood?" If anything, your comments so far make me think that his actual crime is committing crimes and not being Japanese.

If this were that Reddit sub, I'd say everyone sucks here. Even criminals can be mistreated.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:30 AM
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You said it better than I did.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:53 AM
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No it was just obvious to me, as a guy who has lived in Japan for 23 adult years that he was not tried in a court of law in Japan because they didn't have sufficient evidence that he had committed a crime. As a police investigator what magic bit of evidence could you be waiting for one year after you had arrested him?

Last edited by Isamu; 01-10-2020 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:02 AM
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No it was just obvious to me, as a guy who has lived in Japan for 23 adult years that he was not tried in a court of law in Japan because they didn't have sufficient evidence that he had committed a crime. As a police investigator what magic bit of evidence could you be waiting for one year after you had arrested him?
This, this, this. It really needs to be understood that he was arrested in November of 2018. They've been holding him for a year with no trial in sight.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:06 AM
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Yes, but one cannot credibly say that he along with many other executives in Japan regularly ignore the law in various compensation matters, and also question whether Ghosn actually broke the law.

His treatment of course is a big problem, but that doesn't actually go to whether or not he did something wrong.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:12 AM
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Yes, but one cannot credibly say that he along with many other executives in Japan regularly ignore the law in various compensation matters, and also question whether Ghosn actually broke the law.

His treatment of course is a big problem, but that doesn't actually go to whether or not he did something wrong.
yes, but saying "I'm glad to see a fat-cat get what's coming to him" is exactly like the Japanese mindset. "If we're accusing you, you must be guilty of it." 'cos right now all we have are still just accusations. And anyone who has served jury duty in the US has likely (hopefully) had it hammered into them that an accusation is not evidence of guilt.

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Old 01-10-2020, 10:23 AM
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It seems to me, from what I'm reading here, that the problem is not that Ghosn is being punished. The problem is that his Japanese colleagues are not being punished.

If illegal activity is routine in Japanese businesses, and you want to stay on the right side of the law, then the solution would be to not be involved in Japanese businesses.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:42 AM
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It seems to me, from what I'm reading here, that the problem is not that Ghosn is being punished. The problem is that his Japanese colleagues are not being punished.

If illegal activity is routine in Japanese businesses, and you want to stay on the right side of the law, then the solution would be to not be involved in Japanese businesses.
No you got it all wrong. First time for you.

The problem is you need to prove someone guilty of breaking a law before you take away their rights.

That never happened with Ghosn.

They took away his rights without ever convicting him of a crime.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:50 AM
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yes, but saying "I'm glad to see a fat-cat get what's coming to him" is exactly like the Japanese mindset. "If we're accusing you, you must be guilty of it." 'cos right now all we have are still just accusations. And anyone who has served jury duty in the US has likely (hopefully) had it hammered into them that an accusation is not evidence of guilt.
Yeah, but none of us here are in a position where coming to preliminary conclusions actually has any effect on anyone's legal rights.

I don't find that there's anything particularly wrong with average people saying things like, "Boy, sure seems like OJ did it! And that guy from that Netflix series sure seems to have been manipulated by police into a false confession!" Whether a Japanese person approaches accusations in a different way is something I don't actually care at all about, because I can't see how it impacts on my opinion one way or another.

Similarly, from what I've read, it sure seems like Ghosn's dealings were not above board. But, it seems like the judicial process has not been speedy or fair. It's difficult for me to pick a side when both seem to be pretty shady.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:55 AM
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The problem is you need to prove someone guilty of breaking a law before you take away their rights.

That never happened with Ghosn.

They took away his rights without ever convicting him of a crime.
It seems pretty clear that the arrests, re-arrests, and water torture of additional charges are a deliberate plot to harass and punish him in advance of a process where he can argue his innocence. I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that.

What I can't figure out is how one can simultaneously argue, as you have done, that everyone including Ghosn flaunts Japanese financial laws in certain ways, but then also question others to provide proof that he's done something wrong and declare him to be innocent. This makes literally no sense to me.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:05 AM
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It seems to me, from what I'm reading here, that the problem is not that Ghosn is being punished. The problem is that his Japanese colleagues are not being punished.

If illegal activity is routine in Japanese businesses, and you want to stay on the right side of the law, then the solution would be to not be involved in Japanese businesses.
Between the thing with Olympus, and the general reporting on Yakuza penetration of Japanese Corporations, I think that is a sound conclusion.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:13 AM
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yes, but saying "I'm glad to see a fat-cat get what's coming to him" is exactly like the Japanese mindset. "If we're accusing you, you must be guilty of it." 'cos right now all we have are still just accusations. And anyone who has served jury duty in the US has likely (hopefully) had it hammered into them that an accusation is not evidence of guilt.
Firstly, I don't get the impression that that is the Japanese mindset. The Japanese (or the Japanese prosecutors at least) seem to be more of the opinion that the Gaijin got what was coming to him.

Secondly, we here are not on the jury. We are entitled to make (tentative) conclusions from the reported evidence.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:18 AM
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It seems pretty clear that the arrests, re-arrests, and water torture of additional charges are a deliberate plot to harass and punish him in advance of a process where he can argue his innocence. I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that.

What I can't figure out is how one can simultaneously argue, as you have done, that everyone including Ghosn flaunts Japanese financial laws in certain ways, but then also question others to provide proof that he's done something wrong and declare him to be innocent. This makes literally no sense to me.
Oh OK, the difference is in who get punished. Japanese don't get punished, gaijin do.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:41 AM
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Oh OK, the difference is in who get punished. Japanese don't get punished, gaijin do.
Traveling in Japan was an eye-opener for me. There was some blatantly open racism directed toward this gaijin. Small things like people walking up to me in public to take their picture with me without even asking to being refused service. It felt like they only saw white guys on TV and I was almost like a unicorn.


ETA - the VAST majority of people were very friendly, nice, and polite - I don't want to paint too grim a picture

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Old 01-10-2020, 11:48 AM
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provide proof that he's done something wrong .
Please provide proof.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:03 PM
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Please provide proof.
Sure:

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I would add that he couldn't have done any of these supposed illicit transactions without it being OK'ed by the legal team and the board of directors. So they are all complicit. And he doesn't do his own taxes, so whoever was doing that for him is responsible for what they did or didn't report.
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There were questionable transactions by Ghosn, sure, but all the other Japanese management had done similar things, but none of them went to jail. They just paid a fine.
Since you've said there's reason to believe he did shady things, I'm willing to take you at your word.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:07 PM
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Please provide proof.
That's about as blatant a quoting out of context as I've seen, Isamu. It'll earn you a warning. Please don't do it again.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:15 PM
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I basically agree with you. I would add that he couldn't have done any of these supposed illicit transactions without it being OK'ed by the legal team and the board of directors. So they are all complicit. And he doesn't do his own taxes, so whoever was doing that for him is responsible for what they did or didn't report.
Thirded.

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Old 01-10-2020, 11:43 PM
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That's about as blatant a quoting out of context as I've seen, Isamu. It'll earn you a warning. Please don't do it again.
Sorry, I didn't realize I had posted that. I was copying and pasting a lot.
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:23 AM
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Oh OK, the difference is in who get punished. Japanese don't get punished, gaijin do.
How many Japanese war criminals were prosecuted bu the Japanese government? I couldnt find a single case. Instead, Japanese popular opinion cried out for early release of Japanese war criminals tried by the Allies.

Japanese soldiers also happily sent pics back to Japan of them committing war crimes. As horrifying as that is, we should be grateful because without that photographic evidence, the Japanese government would simply denied that they ever happened.

Its a mistake to think that the Japanese, and many other nations, hold the same beliefs as we do concerning the law and moral and ethical values. Thats on us for our arrogance.
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
How many Japanese war criminals were prosecuted bu the Japanese government? I couldnt find a single case. Instead, Japanese popular opinion cried out for early release of Japanese war criminals tried by the Allies.

Japanese soldiers also happily sent pics back to Japan of them committing war crimes. As horrifying as that is, we should be grateful because without that photographic evidence, the Japanese government would simply denied that they ever happened.

Its a mistake to think that the Japanese, and many other nations, hold the same beliefs as we do concerning the law and moral and ethical values. Thats on us for our arrogance.
What's your point and what does it have to do with what Isamu said?
  #48  
Old 01-11-2020, 03:10 AM
madsircool is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
What's your point and what does it have to do with what Isamu said?
Did you even read what he wrote?
  #49  
Old 01-11-2020, 03:17 AM
Isamu is offline
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Did you even read what he wrote?
Well, WWII is another issue not really pertinent here, but you are right in that they have a different legal system and a different point of view about how society should be ordered.
  #50  
Old 01-11-2020, 03:18 AM
Isamu is offline
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Sure:





Since you've said there's reason to believe he did shady things, I'm willing to take you at your word.
Shady to me doesn't mean illegal. I don't think I am splitting hairs.
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