In Depth

What is ‘playing Ghosn’?

Viral trend of people inside instrument cases is inspired by ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who allegedly fled Japan in a similar manner

A viral trend that is seeing people squeeze into musical instrument cases has prompted warnings from one manufacturer that doing so could pose a suffocation risk.

The bizarre craze, trending on Twitter under the name “playing Ghosn”, is a homage to the controversial former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who fled Japan in December allegedly concealed inside an audio equipment case when faced with financial misconduct charges.

“We won’t mention the reason, but there have been many tweets about climbing inside large musical instrument cases,” Japanese instrument maker Yamaha said on Twitter. “A warning after any unfortunate accident would be too late, so we ask everyone not to try it.”

Who is Ghosn?

Carlos Ghosn, a 65-year-old Brazilian-born French-Lebanese businessman, is largely credited with saving Japanese carmaker Nissan from bankruptcy and turning it into a thriving modern company since joining in 1999 from Renault.

But after earning significant respect in Japan as the first non-Japanese CEO of the firm, his public image was destroyed when he was arrested in November 2018, accused of underreporting his salary over five years by £63.6 million. He denies all charges.

Following his arrest, Ghosn was released on bail in April 2019 and allowed to live in his luxurious Tokyo residence but under surveillance and with a ban on using the internet.

How did he escape and why?

While still awaiting trial in December it was confirmed by Ghosn’s legal team that he had fled the country and travelled to his native Lebanon.

Days later he staged a now-infamous press conference in which he took aim at the Japanese justice system and his treatment under its authority, and described how he was a victim of a “systematic campaign by a handful of malevolent actors to destroy my reputation and impugn my character”. The press conference drew significant media coverage for Ghosn’s bizarre, rambling demeanour and wild gesticulations.

After questions began to arise over the nature of Ghosn’s escape, unconfirmed reports surfaced that he had fled the country by hiding inside a large box usually designed for audio equipment.

Government-run media accounts from Turkey have said that the box containing Ghosn was loaded on to a private plane in Osaka, Japan, before flying to Istanbul. The New York Times says that, according to those Turkish media accounts, the box was kept in the storage area of the jet, which was accessible from where the passengers sat, and Ghosn was let out of the box and sat in the locked passenger area after take-off.

On the tarmac in Istanbul, a private car pulled up to the plane and then “drove to another jet parked a short distance away”, the paper adds. That plane then transported Ghosn to Beirut, Lebanon.

According to the BBC, a number of private security staff had helped smuggle Ghosn out of Japan in an operation that had been in the works for months.

What is the new trend on social media?

The Times says that as reports of his dramatic escape emerged, musicians “copied Ghosn on social media” in a trend dubbed “playing Ghosn”.

“One woman photographed herself inside a padded green harp case,” the paper adds. “In another, a baby was pictured lying in a felt-lined guitar case.”

Yamaha was not amused by the images. In a statement on Twitter, Yamaha Wind Stream said: “There have been a large number of tweets showing people climbing into large instrument cases.

“To avoid the possibility of a tragic accident, please do not do this... Musical instrument and audio equipment cases are designed to hold musical instruments and audio equipment. Please use them correctly.”

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