Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. chief Carlos Ghosn Tuesday fought off attacks that Renault SA represents an “occupying army” in Japan as it oversees a painful restructuring at the Japanese car maker.
Ghosn, imported to oversee the overhaul after Renault of France took a controlling stake in Nissan last year, told the annual shareholders’ meeting that Japan’s third biggest automaker was beating his targets.

The Nissan revival plan unveiled last October was “going faster and having a deeper impact than planned,” said Ghosn, who was named president in addition to chief operating officer at a board meeting Tuesday.

But that failed to placate one elderly shareholder describing himself as “a patriotic Japanese”, who lambasted Ghosn and other foreign board members from Renault for not bowing to the 379-strong audience upon entry to the hall.

The shareholder said he was born before World War II and saw parallels in the post-war US occupation of Japan with Renault’s grip on a fallen champion of Japanese industry.

“Occupying forces are controlling this business,” he said while giving an hour-long barrage of questions, to protests from other shareholders who accused him of being drunk.

Ghosn, who was known in France as “le cost-killer,” dismissed the shareholder’s charge that he was a “destroyer” of Nissan.

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“We are all committed to making Nissan strong again, brilliant again, in Japan and outside Japan,” Ghosn said.

The former Renault executive got a strong vote of confidence from Nissan chairman Yoshikazu Hanawa.

“Mr Ghosn is now a Nissan man. He’s left Renault. He’s an earnest man, an honest man,” the chairman told shareholders.

“You make analogies about occupying armies. He is not like that. He is not.”

Brazilian-born Ghosn, alternating between Japanese and English, reiterated his vow to resign if Nissan does not return to the black in this fiscal year after spending most of the past decade in the red.

In the year to March, Nissan posted a group net loss of 684.4 billion yen (6.3 billion dollars), rocketing from 27.7 billion yen a year before, and in the process saw Honda Motor Co. Ltd. overtake it is as Japan’s second biggest carmaker.

Ghosn said interim results in October would show the fruits of the Nissan revival plan, which involves 21,000 job losses worldwide and the closure of five plants in Japan.