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relates to The Tokyo Job: Inside Carlos Ghosn’s Escape to Beirut
Illustration: Woshibai for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Tokyo Job: Inside Carlos Ghosn’s Escape to Beirut

An elite extraction team spirited the former CEO out of Japan by studying hotel layouts and airport security.

Sometime last fall, a security contractor based in Asia took a call that he found curious. The man on the other end of the line, a longtime acquaintance and, like him, an expert in protecting VIPs and valuable cargoes in challenging environments, was looking to hire for a job in Japan. He offered few specifics. The assignment would involve escorting someone out of the country, he said. It would pay well. And he was looking for operatives with military or police experience and, ideally, fair-skinned East Asian faces—the kind that wouldn’t stand out in Tokyo.

The contractor wanted to know more. Who would the operatives be protecting? What was the specific threat? Would the client be carrying cash or gold or something else of value? The caller wouldn’t say. The contractor was noncommittal but said he would get in touch if anyone else came to mind. They hung up, and the contractor didn’t really think about the job again—until he and the rest of the world saw the news about Carlos Ghosn.