TOKYO – Former Nissan director Greg Kelly, cleared on most counts and handed a suspended sentence in the long-running Tokyo trial over alleged financial misconduct by Carlos Ghosn, teared up with joy as he was welcomed back to Tennessee Monday by U.S. Sen. William Hagerty.
Kelly said coming home after his three-year legal odyssey in Japan was “like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,” as he choked up with emotion during a livestreamed press conference from Nashville. “There’s no place like home,” said Kelly, flanked by the senator and his wife Dee.
Hagerty, R-Tenn., greeted Kelly and his wife March 14 as they returned to the city where Kelly built a career working for Nissan’s North American operations, eventually climbing the ranks to eventually be a director at the parent company in Japan.
Hagerty, who was U.S. ambassador to Japan at the time of Kelly’s arrest in 2018, praised Kelly for building bridges between the U.S. and Japan while working for Nissan Motor Co.
"He's helped build the economic alliance between the United States and Japan for decades. He's had an incredible career at one of the most important companies here in Tennessee, a company that has built its presence here and employs thousands of Tennesseans," Hagerty said.
"Greg was looking forward to his retirement from that storied career, and unfortunately, his retirement was cut short," Hagerty said. "It took over three years to get him home."
Hagerty said that Kelly’s return to the U.S. should pave the way for stronger American ties with Japan, a longtime ally and trading partner of the U.S. in East Asia.
“We need to get back to our strategic alliance with Japan,” Hagerty said. “I think that having this situation, getting you home, allows us to focus much more on the strategic issues that we've got with Japan, and our alliance needs to be stronger and will be stronger as a result.”
Kelly, speaking at an airport conference room with the U.S. colors and Tennessee state flag behind him, praised the Senate Republican for his support during his Japan legal battle.