TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn may have thought his greatest feat was saving Nissan Motor Co. from impending bankruptcy in 1999.
But the embattled uber-executive is now channeling the same steely resolve he exhibited then into an equally uncanny rescue bid: saving himself from prison.
To hear Ghosn's lead lawyer tell it, the ousted Nissan chairman — even after two months in a Tokyo jail cell — is calm, cool and laser-focused on the task of proving his innocence in court.
Ghosn has been confined to relative isolation since his shocking Nov. 19 airport arrest in Japan. But that changed last week when Ghosn, now gaunt and graying from weeks in detention, made his first public appearance in a Tokyo courthouse and outlined a point-by-point defense.
To prepare for that brief 10 minutes before the judges, the ever-efficient Ghosn didn't make a fuss, lead lawyer Motonari Otsuru says. Ghosn's meetings with lawyers never lasted more than two and a half hours, even though his prosecutors have almost unlimited opportunity to interrogate him at will.
"He wants to use this time as effectively as possible," Otsuru said at a mobbed news conference after last week's court hearing. Ghosn was permitted to read a statement in the courtroom and to hear an explanation for his detention.
"He is very much focused on the content of the legal investigation, what kind of questions are being asked or what advice we have for him. He's very calm and logical," Otsuru said.