Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Carlos Ghosn gestures as he delivers a speech during a visit of French President at the Renault factory, in Maubeuge, northern France, on November 8, 2018. - Macron is on a week-long tour to visit the most iconic French landmarks of the First World War, ahead of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1918 armistice. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Carlos Ghosn gestures as he delivers a speech during a visit of French President at the Renault factory, in Maubeuge, northern France, on November 8, 2018. - Macron is on a week-long tour to visit the most iconic French landmarks of the First World War, ahead of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1918 armistice. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:46
Carlos Ghosn resigns as head of Renault
Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Now playing
03:15
Airlines & TSA boost security ahead of Inauguration
Philanthropist Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson listens to US President Donald Trump address to the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Philanthropist Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson listens to US President Donald Trump address to the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
03:14
Major GOP donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson dies
Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the state of the US economy on September 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the state of the US economy on September 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:02
Why Wall Street is hopeful about Biden despite economic challenges
Now playing
05:39
Ben & Jerry's calls for Trump's removal
This illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. - Amid rising turmoil in social media, recently formed social network Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who claim their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants. Parler, founded in Nevada in 2018, bills itself as an alternative to "ideological suppression" at other social networks. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
This illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. - Amid rising turmoil in social media, recently formed social network Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who claim their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants. Parler, founded in Nevada in 2018, bills itself as an alternative to "ideological suppression" at other social networks. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
03:49
Parler sues Amazon in response to being deplatformed
Panasonic
Panasonic's Augmented Reality Heads-up Display
PHOTO: Panasonic USA
Now playing
01:06
This tech gives drivers directions on the road in front of them
PHOTO: Wimkin
Now playing
03:18
The online warning signs of the violent Capitol siege
PHOTO: Twitter
Now playing
02:39
Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump from platform
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:56
'What are we supposed to do?': Rioter speaks to CNN reporter
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
PHOTO: Evan Vucci/AP
Now playing
01:38
Facebook blocks Trump through end of presidency
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:56
CNN speaks to Trump supporters about Trump's election lies
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: The Google logo adorns the outside of their NYC office Google Building 8510 at 85 10th Ave on June 3, 2019 in New York City. Shares of Google parent company Alphabet were down over six percent on Monday, following news reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to launch an anti-trust investigation aimed at Google. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: The Google logo adorns the outside of their NYC office Google Building 8510 at 85 10th Ave on June 3, 2019 in New York City. Shares of Google parent company Alphabet were down over six percent on Monday, following news reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to launch an anti-trust investigation aimed at Google. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
03:25
Google employee on unionizing: Google can't fire us all
FILE - In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Britain on Wednesday, Dec. 30, authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the "vaccine for the world." The Department of Health said it had accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to authorize the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.  (John Cairns/University of Oxford via AP, File)
FILE - In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Britain on Wednesday, Dec. 30, authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the "vaccine for the world." The Department of Health said it had accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to authorize the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca. (John Cairns/University of Oxford via AP, File)
PHOTO: John Cairns/University of Oxford/AP
Now playing
02:36
AstraZeneca vaccine provides 'logistical convenience'
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump's name appears on a stimulus check on May 3, 2020.
PHOTO: Will Lanzoni/CNN
Now playing
03:05
Here's what the new stimulus package means for Americans
PHOTO: Branislav Nenin/Shutterstock
Now playing
02:27
Is working from home the new normal?
(CNN Business) —  

Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo on suspicion of financial misconduct more than two weeks ago, yet the world hasn’t heard a word from the auto industry icon since.

The reasons for his silence have a lot to do with Japan’s legal system.

The multimillionaire executive has been fired as chairman of Nissan (NSANY) and Mitsubishi Motors (MSBHY), and sidelined at Renault (RNSDF), even though prosecutors have yet to file any formal charges against him.

An indictment would be ominous for Ghosn. More than 99% of people charged with a crime in Japan are eventually convicted, experts say.

Ghosn has retained lawyers to represent him but has issued no public statement.

Why has Ghosn stayed silent?

Unlike in the United States, it’s rare for criminal suspects in Japan to comment publicly on legal proceedings — even to deny the allegations.

The relationship between a suspect and prosecutors in Japan can be like a game of poker in which neither side wants to give too much away, especially in the early stages of the process.

“Usually a good criminal defense lawyer would advise the client to remain silent,” said Kana Sasakura, a criminal law professor at Kobe’s Konan University. “If they talk, it might become detrimental.”

Prosecutors are yet to announce full details of the allegations they are pursuing against Ghosn. Anything he and his lawyers say now could be used against him later if prosecutors introduce more allegations.

Even after more than two weeks of detention, Ghosn is unlikely to be aware of the full extent of the allegations against him, Sasakura said.

The executive also faces practical obstacles to getting a public message out. Visits from lawyers, family and friends are strictly controlled by prosecutors, making it difficult for suspects to establish a defense or give their side of the story to the media.

An icon of the auto industry, Ghosn is now in a Tokyo jail.
An icon of the auto industry, Ghosn is now in a Tokyo jail.
PHOTO: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

How does Japan’s system work?

Prosecutors are extremely powerful in the Japanese system.

After an arrest, they can hold a suspect for 72 hours without charging them with a crime. They can extend that by as much as 20 days with court approval. After that, prosecutors can allege new crimes and rearrest the suspect, starting the whole process again.

During this time, prosecutors generally disclose few details about the case publicly, but often leak information to the local media to help build momentum in their favor.

Japan also has no pre-indictment bail, so suspects stay in jail throughout this process. Unusually, they can be subject to lengthy interrogations without their lawyer present.

Prosecutors aim to wear suspects down and make them confess, at which point they formally indict them. The case then proceeds to trial, where a sentence is handed down.

“Presumably, trying to get a confession out of at least one of them is a goal,” said Colin Jones, a law professor at Kyoto’s Doshisha Law School, referring to Ghosn and former Nissan director Greg Kelly, who has also been arrested for suspected financial misconduct.

Jones, and other legal scholars, have criticized the system for being too stacked in prosecutors’ favor. But the prosecutors themselves dismiss such complaints.

“Every country has its own background, history and culture,” Shin Kukimoto, a Tokyo deputy public prosecutor said at a news conference about Ghosn’s case last week. “I wonder if it is fair to criticize [Japan’s justice system] because it is different from their own countries.”

What’s likely to happen next?

Based on the allegations that have been made so far, Ghosn could face up to 10 years in prison if he’s eventually found guilty. But it’s unlikely he has confessed to anything, experts say, and he could even be refusing to talk to prosecutors at all.

After holding such a high-profile suspect for so long, it would be deeply embarrassing for prosecutors to release him without charge.

“There will be a public uproar if the prosecutors decide not to prosecute Ghosn,” Sasakura said.

Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.