MUSINGS / Nov. 20, 2018

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Nov. 20 issue.

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I remember when resounding praise was heard in public. It was in the spring of 2003 that Nissan Motor Co., under the leadership of then President Carlos Ghosn, announced that the company’s debt — which ultimately amounted to nearly ¥3 trillion — was completely paid off.

The Jiji Senryu section in our paper then carried this senryu satirical poem: “We should ask Mr. Ghosn to reform Japan.” The corporate manager, dispatched from [France’s] Renault SA to Nissan, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, was the man in the news. There must have been investors who scrutinized the company’s securities report — deemed a “company report card” — with his image or his words in mind.

What made the headlines yesterday, too, had something to do with the report card. The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Mr. Ghosn on suspicion of understating his remuneration in Nissan’s securities reports. Perhaps it was coordinated to proceed in tandem with the investigation — Nissan noted there was a grave misuse of company funds for personal purposes and announced that it would propose at a meeting of its board of directors that Mr. Ghosn be relieved of his duties as chairman of the board. It would be a total shame if unfair practices based on personal greed lurked behind the glory of creating cars of great efficiency one after another, making users happy and pushing Nissan’s alliance [with Renault] to become the world’s second-largest automotive group in 2017.

When was it that his huge paycheck came up in conversation? A poem that appeared in the senryu section about eight years ago was foretelling: “His big paycheck struck me as if I were hit on the head with a gong (Ghosn).”Speech

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