Ghosn also Escaped and Won — Loopholes Discovered through Correspondence with Escaped Criminals
A unique dialogue between Yuki Takahashi, author of "Escape is the Victory: Confessions of Escaped Criminals" and Shunji Suenami, author of "My Home in Yamatani
The “Matsuyama Prison Escapee,” who escaped from a prison without walls, hid out in an abandoned house on an island, and later crossed the sea and landed on Honshu Island. In addition to these two escapees, a new book, ” Escape is the Victory: Confessions of the Escapees” (Shogakukan), published on June 1, features the stories of former Nissan Motors Chairman Carlos M. Pérez, who left the country for Lebanon while out on bail, and the “Tondabayashi Police Station Escapees,” who kicked down an acrylic board to escape from the Tondabayashi Police Station’s visiting room. It is a nonfiction book that focuses on why these two escapees, as well as Carlos Ghosn, former chairman of Nissan Motor Co.
News of fugitive criminals always causes a stir. A talk event was held at the Ikebukuro branch of the Junkudo bookstore to discuss the book, which focuses on several fugitives who once attracted the attention of the whole country and was compiled by interviewing some of them.
On stage were the author, freelance writer Yuki Takahashi, and nursing care journalist Shunji Suenami, whose “My Home Yamaya” (Shogakukan), published after winning the 28th Shogakukan Nonfiction Grand Prize, was later selected as a candidate for the 21st Shincho Document Award.
Suenami I am a certified nursing care journalist because I cared for and took care of my parents, and I also call myself a nursing care journalist.
Takahashi: Our fields overlapped in some respects, and we covered the current treatment of aging inmates to compile an article titled “Measures against Dementia in Prisons. We covered prisons all over Japan together.
Suenami: So it was a weekly magazine that led you to interview the escapees included in “Escape is the Only Way to Win: Confessions of Escapees”?
Takahashi: It was 2018 when I was talking with the editor about what I wanted to cover for the magazine. It was around the time that the media was abuzz with the arrest of a man who had escaped from the Oi Shipbuilding Workshop of Matsuyama Prison, one of the open-type treatment facilities known as a prison without walls. I interviewed him, obtained his memoir, and wrote an article about it at the time.
That year, there was another man who had escaped from the Tondabayashi Police Station’s visiting room in the summer and fled westward, posing as a bicycle traveler. I contacted that man, who was later arrested at a roadside station in Shunan City, to ask him to write a memoir, and I published a weekly magazine with his account of his life on the run. These two interviews were the start of the project.
Suenami: Even if you ask the man to write a memoir, how do you go about getting his story? The person in question has been arrested and is in custody, right?
Takahashi: Those who are arrested after escaping from a penal institution or police station are again in custody at a penal institution or police station somewhere in Japan. We would conduct interviews there by sending letters or going to visit them, but they would not tell us when we inquired, so we would just keep contacting the various facilities.
These interviews were done after I wrote an article for a weekly magazine at the time, but later, Slow News Corporation, a subsidiary of Smart News Corporation, a news distribution company, launched a subscription site for investigative reporting, and I was asked to write a feature story for them. I was asked to write a feature story for the site.
At the time, however, the spread of the new coronavirus had just begun, and it was quite difficult to cover the story. In my previous work, “Tsukebi no Mura,” I covered a village in a mountainous area, but by conducting interviews from scratch in such a specific region, if the infection spread, it would be very difficult. I discussed with my editor that it would be better to add to the coverage we had already done to some extent, and we decided to flesh out the memoirs of the fugitives at the time. This book is the result of a series of articles I wrote for SlowNews, an investigative journalism subscription service.
Suenami What kind of interviews did you do on the ground regarding the Matsuyama prison escapees?
Takahashi: The man who escaped from the Oi Shipbuilding Workshop in Ehime Prefecture immediately stole a car and was heading north on the Shimanami Kaido Highway to cross over to Honshu, but as he was about to enter Onomichi, the police were there, so he made a U-turn, abandoned his car at a place called Mukojima, one step before Honshu, and went into hiding in an abandoned house there. I left my car and hid out in an abandoned house on Mukojima, one of the islands before Honshu. However, this led to stricter checkpoints on the island. Feeling sorry for this, he swam from Mukaishima to Onomichi through the Onomichi Channel and landed in Onomichi. In our interviews, we have heard stories from the residents on this Mukaishima.
Suenami: It seems that the location of the abandoned house where you were hiding out was revealed during the interview.
Takahashi: I asked the residents. One time, when I went into a coffee shop to take a break between interviews, the owner told me in his finished talk, without my asking, “There is a house over there where the fugitive was hiding out,” he said. I learned firsthand that this is how the word is spreading.
Suenami: Were there any interviews in which you felt that you could make a form of the project?
Takahashi: The man who escaped from the Oi Shipbuilding Workshop stole a motorcycle and headed for Hiroshima after landing in Honshu, but he was reported at an Internet cafe he stopped at. He was secured on a nearby street after leaving the cafe. When I interviewed the people at this Internet cafe, I finally felt that the story could be compiled into a book. It was the place where I spent my last hours just before my arrest, but at the time, there was no media coverage of the comments of the people at the Internet cafe, so I was hearing their stories for the first time.
Suenami You also mentioned that defendant Carlos Ghosn fled the country, didn’t you?
Takahashi: At the end of 2019, it made headlines that defendant Carlos Ghosn, who had been released on bail, left his home in Minato-ku, his restricted residence, and fled to Lebanon by private jet. To this day, there is no sign of his return to Japan. Since the conviction rate in Japanese criminal trials is said to be 99.9 percent, Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, may have thought it better to flee than to fight in court.
Japan’s bail system is completely meaningless to those who think, “I don’t care if I have to forfeit my bail bond, I just want to escape. For them, paying the bail bond is equivalent to obtaining a passport to escape. I have written in detail about why this is so in my book. I hope that those who read it will have an opportunity to learn more about the “crime of escape.