Following the release of Ghosn on bail it is important to take into consideration the actions of key associates of Ghosn’s such as Jose Munoz, described as a key person of interest who suddenly resigned from Nissan following the probe and refused to cooperate with the investigation. Events like this seem to indicate some guilt or knowledge of his associates, indicating an environment of normalised corruption, something we can also see in practices such as the widespread under-reporting of tax in many large multinational corporations. Japanese courts may arguably be in need of limited reforms, but other areas of Japanese society are in much greater need of reform, so reforming a functional legal system in a country with a fairly low overall crime rate is probably not the most efficient path of reform here.
The Japanese criminal justice system gained an equal amount of attention as Ghosn himself as this historic case played out, but the Japanese criminal justice system is more misunderstood than in need of reform. Japan is ranked 9th globally on World Justice Projects Criminal Justice Index, just behind the Scandinavian countries, Austria and Germany. Comparatively it is actually quite a fair system, it is complicated but not much different from the US, but it is exactly these complications have led to misunderstandings. The often cited 99% conviction rate in Japan is one such misconception, as it combines cases that are contested and go to trial with all other prosecuted cases that do not go to trial, the majority of cases, creating an eye-catching but misleading statistic. In fact the conviction rate of cases that go to trial is not that different from the US, 83% compared to Japan's 96%, conviction rates remain high in both countries, but not all that different.
However corruption probably needs more desperate attention, issues surrounding government, press freedom, corruptive societal influences and systemic corrupt business practices are widespread not only in Japan but globally. While corruption is on the whole fairly low in Japan, small scale corruption and political corruption remain regional issues, while high profile cases of bribery and informal payments remain common and on going. Likewise the dominance of one party in Japan's national governance landscape, and a controversial government-media relationship raises more questions around how truly transparent a system Japan really has on a macro level. Surely there are many more pressing avenues of reform in Japan than criminal justice.