Japan said Monday it will pursue a criminal prosecution of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn despite his dramatic escape from the country.
Speaking to reporters at her Tokyo office, Justice Minister Masako Mori said Ghosn's attempt to avoid trial was unlawful.
"It is clear that we don't have any records of the defendant departing Japan, hence we believe that he left Japan illegally," Mori said.
Ghosn, the former chief of the Nissan-Renault auto alliance, fled the country a week earlier despite being subject to stringent bail conditions. Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo airport in November 2018, on charges related to hiding income and using company funds for personal gain.
Last January, Ghosn said he had been "wrongly accused" and "unfairly detained."
Ghosn reportedly was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company and used Turkish private jets to fly to Istanbul and then to Beirut, where he spent some of his childhood. Japanese public broadcaster NHK said last week that while out on bail, Ghosn had been allowed to carry a French passport.
Mori said Monday that Japan's government will introduce tighter immigration checks to prevent a repeat incident, and that departure procedures have already been strengthened at airports.
Keeping tabs on people under house arrest would also be reviewed, she said.
"The government is currently working toward revising the existing law and we will swiftly take into consideration measures to address the problem of absconding," she said.
Japan's justice minister added that she could potentially request extradition of Ghosn from Lebanon, where the former executive is believed to be hiding out.
According to Reuters, Interpol — the international police alliance — placed an arrest demand on Lebanon's internal security forces last week.
Several media outlets have cited a lawyer for Ghosn who reported that the fugitive is to hold a press conference in Beirut on Wednesday.