Since his arrest on suspicion of tax evasion, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been occupying a cell at the Tokyo Detention Center in Kosuge, Katsushika Ward. Nikkan Gendai launched a series of daily columns about the incident, and in its fourth installment, which appeared in the Nov 30 edition, it introduced readers to how Ghosn has spent the previous 10 days.
The first thing the article points out is that despite Ghosn's high social standing, no special exceptions are being made in terms of his treatment at the facility.
"The wake-up call comes at 7 a.m.," says author Toshio Sakamoto, who formerly worked as a guard at Kosuge. "After the roll call and breakfast, he'll undergo interrogation. Lunch is served from 11:50. I suppose there may be more interrogation sessions from afternoon, but these are interrupted by 30 minutes of outdoor exercise and bathing on certain days. Then comes supper from 4:20 p.m. Afterwards, interrogations may continue until lights out at 9 p.m."
High rolling businessman Takafumi Horie, who wrote an account of his time in Kosuge in 2006, mentioned that classical music is played in the detention center at the 7 a.m. wake-up call. For someone like Ghosn, who has spent much of his life outside Japan, the music may impart a calming sensation, the writer comments.
Although many inmates share cells at the center, according to the aforementioned Sakamoto, it's likely that Ghosn has been occupying a cell for single occupants.
"I suppose he's been assigned a cell with a bed, which is common for foreigners," he says. "The cell measures slightly larger than 4 tatami mats, or about 7 square meters. It's equipped with heating and air conditioning and an English-language booklet of rules and instructions for prisoners is also provided."
As it's supposed Ghosn has scant experience sleeping atop a sembei futon ("rice cracker bedding" that's become flat and hard through long usage), a bed no doubt will be much welcomed, although considering his palatial home adjacent to the Seine River in Paris, he's likely to feel uncomfortable in a cramped cell.
At least he will be permitted to wear his own clothing.
"Since he hasn't been convicted of anything yet, his family is permitted to supply him with casual wear," said Sakamoto, who added that items such as belts and neckties are definitely out. Other prohibited objects include cell phones, personal computers and writing instruments such as fountain pens.
And what about food? When Ghosn first arrived in Japan, it slipped out in an interview that he had accompanied his family to dine on miso ramen (noodles in a broth of soya bean paste). Certainly if he is able to cope with breakfasts of natto (fermented soya beans) and miso soup, things will go easier.
"The breakfasts are prepared by the inmates," says Sakamoto. "There are Japanese style and also some with bread, and while no choice is offered, he'll be served either tea or coffee. Or, he can arrange to purchase instant coffee in the prison canteen, and he'll be supplied with hot water periodically so he can prepare his own."
As for the overall quality of the cuisine, death row inhabitant Kanae Kijima, convicted of multiple murders of men she allegedly defrauded, posted on her blog that "meals at the Tokyo Detention Center are great. They serve Japanese, Western, Chinese cuisine and even ethnic dishes. The soup you get every day compares favorably with what's served at lunch in cafes in Daikanyama (a trendy upscale district one station from Shibuya)."
Alas, cells in Kosuge are not equipped with TV sets, but local radio programs are occasionally piped through the PA system.
"The detention center does not subscribe to English-language newspapers," says Sakamoto. "It's possible his embassy has arranged to send him copies every day, but I suppose articles relating to his own case are expunged from the newspapers before they reach him.
"The only visitors he's permitted are staff from his embassy and his attorney. Telephone calls are not permitted."
While Japanese prisoners are limited to 15 minutes in the bath, Sakamoto speculates Ghosn might be allowed slightly more time, either to bathe or shower.
In an upcoming installment, Nikkan Gendai will attempt to answer the question as to whether, when the case goes to trial, the plaintiff's wealth will be able to sway the law.© Japan Today