For the first time since he carried it out, Carlos Ghosn has shared the details of his experience in his daring escape from Japan in 2019.
In a new interview with the BBC, Ghosn recalled the night he was concealed in a box and loaded onto a plane that would fly him out of western Japan’s Kansai airport.
Hiding in Plain Sight
“The 30 minutes waiting in the box on the plane, waiting for it to take off, was probably the longest wait I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he said.
To reach the airport, the former boss of Nissan and Renault had to ensure that he would avoid detection in Tokyo, where he had been arrested by the Japanese authorities in 2018 over allegations of financial misconduct.
“The only memory I have of this moment is shock, frozen trauma,” Ghosn said of the moment he was arrested.
After being bailed and transferred to house arrest, Ghosn was told he would be prohibited from having any contact with his wife, which is when he decided to escape, he said in the interview.
“The plan was I could not show my face so I have to be hidden somewhere. And the only way I could be hidden [was] to be in a box or be in a luggage so nobody could see me, nobody could recognize me, and the plan could work.”
As to why a music equipment box was chosen for the plan, the former executive said it was the most logical option, particularly during that time in December when Japan was buzzing with concerts.
On the day of his escape, Ghosn had to make sure that his behavior was completely normal to the outside observer. Then, when the time came to leave, he would put on something more casual than the suits he had been donning for years.
Inside the Box
After swapping his clothes and exiting Toyko aboard a bullet train to Osaka, he entered the music box waiting for him at a hotel before being transported by American father and son Michael and Peter Taylor, who posed as musicians, to a private jet.
Inside the box, Ghosn focused on nothing else than the present moment and ensuring the operation would work.
“You’re not afraid, you don’t have any emotion except the huge concentration on ‘this is your chance, you can’t miss it. If you miss it, you’re going to pay with your life, with the life of a hostage in Japan’. “
Although he spent a total of around an hour and a half inside the box, Ghosn recalled that the period felt more like “one year and a half.”
When he finally reached Beirut after landing and switching planes in Turkey, Ghosn was ecstatic. “The thrill was that finally, I’m going to be able to tell my story.”
Now, around a year and a half after his movie-worthy stunt, Ghosn is focusing on repairing his reputation from his residence in Beirut, where he remains safe from the Japanese judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Taylors are being tried in Japan for their role in getting the fugitive out of Japan, after having been extradited by the United States.
They have both expressed regret for their involvement in the operation, and they now face 3 years of prison.