Carlos Ghosn: the contrast between severity in Japan and impunity in France

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The case of the arrest and continued detention in Japan of Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct has revealed the severity of the Japanese judicial system, which again denied him bail at a hearing in Tokyo this week. But it has also illustrated the situation of impunity granted in France to numerous high-placed individuals like Ghosn, writes Mediapart co-founder Laurent Mauduit in this opinion article. For while it now appears that the French government is finally moving towards his replacement as head of the French carmaker, economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire has until now done his utmost to protect Ghosn, even declaring that there was ‘nothing in particular to report’ on his tax situation in France, when in fact the boss of one of France's biggest industrial corporations has been a tax resident in the Netherlands since 2012.

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The anger behind the continuing ‘yellow vest’ protests in France is not only over the question of living standards. It includes the demand for a radical reform of the democratic process, for which the movement’s call for Citizens’ Initiative Referendums (whereby policy proposals that attract 700,000 online signatures would prompt a referendum on a given issue) could be one integral element. But the anger is also fuelled by the sentiment that the powerful elite in France enjoy preferential treatment, emoluments and a certain immunity, at a time when significant sacrifices are asked of ordinary citizens.