In Japan it’s called the ‘Ghosn Shock’ ― the stunning arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the jet-setting CEO who saved Nissan and made it part of a global automotive empire.
Even more shocking was his daring escape from Japan, packed into a box and put on a private jet to Lebanon after months spent in a Japanese detention center, subsisting on rice gruel.
Ghosn spent two decades building a colossal partnership between Nissan and Renault that looked like a new model for a global business, but the alliance’s shiny image fronted an unsteady, tense operation. Culture clashes, infighting among executives and engineers, dueling corporate traditions, and government maneuvering constantly threatened the venture.
Journalists Hans Greimel and William Sposato have followed the story up close, with access to key players, including Ghosn himself. Veteran Tokyo-based reporters, they have witnessed the end of Japan’s bubble economy and attempts at opening Japan Inc. to the world. They’ve seen the fraying of keiretsu, Japan’s traditional skein of business relationships, and covered numerous corporate scandals, of which the Ghosn Shock and Ghosn’s subsequent escape stand above all.
This episode explores the complex suspicions around what and who was really responsible for Ghosn’s ouster and why one of the top executives in the world would risk everything to escape the country. It explains how economics, history, national interests, cultural politics, and hubris collided, crumpling the legacy of arguably the most important foreign businessman ever to set foot in Japan.
This gripping, unforgettable narrative, full of fascinating characters, serves as part cautionary tale, part object lesson, and part forewarning of the increasing complexity of doing global business in a nationalistic world.
Bio: Hans Greimel is an award-winning American business journalist based in Tokyo, where he serves as Asia Editor for Automotive News, overseeing coverage from Japan, China, and South Korea.
William Sposato is a Tokyo-based correspondent and consultant who has been active in Japan for more than twenty years, with senior roles at Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. He is currently a writer and regular contributor to Foreign Policy magazine.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
- Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn
- Bubble Burst
- Japanese Economy
- Ghosn and Japanese Companies
- Carlos Ghosn Arrested in Japan
- Carlos Ghosn Charges
- Nissan and Renault
- Japanese Prison
- Japan Food and Culture
Mentions & Resources:
- Hans Greimel
- William Sposato
- Collision Course: Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire
- Carlos Ghosn