TOKYO -- The Tsuru banquet room at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo is decorated with images of Japanese cranes in flight. The white-feathered bird is regarded in Japan as a symbol of longevity and faithfulness, and formerly featured on the most common bank note, the 1,000 yen bill; tsuru no hitokoe -- "the crane's word" -- is a Japanese proverb for a decisive intervention from an authoritarian figure. Its broad wings often carry it across great distances.
Longevity, faithfulness -- and one particularly long flight -- were very much on the minds of the hundreds of executives who met in the banquet room to mark the start of the year on Jan. 7. They had returned from the traditional shogatsu holiday break to the shocking news that Carlos Ghosn, the once-celebrated, now-disgraced Nissan Motor leader, had made a dramatic escape from house arrest in Tokyo.