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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn escape leaves Kansai Airport officials scratching heads

Fallen automotive titan beat the system -- but how?

Kansai International Airport sits on an artificial island in Osaka Bay and serves as the gateway for the Osaka area in western Japan. (Photo courtesy of Kansai Airports)

TOKYO -- Officials at Japan's Kansai International Airport are at a loss to explain how former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn made it past security checks to board a private jet on his way to Lebanon.

The airport sits on an artificial island in Osaka Bay and serves as the gateway for the Osaka area in western Japan. Ghosn would have had to travel more than 530 km there from his Tokyo residence to board the plane.

"How did he slip past the strict screening process?" an insider at the airport asked, echoing a common sentiment.

Since June 2018, the airport has processed international arrivals and departures by individuals on private jets at a special facility named Premium Gate Tamayura at Terminal 2.

"Tamayura" represents the sound made when comma-shaped beads popular in prehistoric Japan strike each other.

Kansai International Airport's Premium Gate Tamayura opened to private-jet passengers in June 2018. (Photo by Emi Okada)

The 300-sq.-meter facility is open 24 hours a day and includes its own lounge, customs, immigration and quarantine, and security check area. Travelers using it must submit a form stating the flight course and the number of passengers, as well as the presence of cargo related to meat, live animals, flowers, and fruits and vegetables.

The gate charges a fee of 200,000 yen ($1,840) per arrival or departure.

Those traveling abroad on private jets undergo the same screening as conventional travelers, a source at the airport said.

This includes X-raying baggage and inspecting oversized containers by hand. The travelers themselves go through security checks and exit screening.

But baggage is exempt in the case of national leaders and other state-guest-level VIPs, for example. Diplomatic pouches also bypass security checks under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

It is not known whether Ghosn or another party took advantage of such exemptions.

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