At his explosive news conference in Beirut on Wednesday, Carlos Ghosn claimed Japanese still love him, and haven't fallen for the image of the "cold, greedy dictator," as he says Tokyo prosecutors have sought to paint him.

The reality is more complicated. He was once celebrated for rescuing Nissan from ruin two decades ago, earning him accolades as one of the Japan's most revered corporate leaders. But for many in the country now, his 2018 detention and allegations of financial crimes fostered the impression that he lost his management magic, got greedy, and most importantly for a nation that prides itself on law and order — broke the rules.

"The people on the street do not think for one second that after celebrating this gaijin (foreigner) for 17 years, all of a sudden he became a villain," Ghosn said in his lengthy news conference from Lebanon, recounting episodes while on bail where people would approach him on Tokyo's streets and say, "We're sorry for what's happening to you," and "Ganbatte kudasai Ghosn-san!" ("Hang in there, Mr. Ghosn!").