Analysts criticized Mr. Saikawa and the Nissan board for failing to detect the false reporting earlier.
“It seems like there were complaints against Ghosn within the company,” said Takashi Inoue, chief executive of Inoue Public Relations. Mr. Saikawa, he added, “is responsible for missing the false reporting.”
Mr. Inoue said other Nissan executives may have been jealous of Mr. Ghosn, who was paid was much more than anyone else at the company. As Nissan’s chairman last year, Mr. Ghosn reported income of ¥735 million ($6.5 million) while Mr. Saikawa was paid ¥499 million ($4.4 million) as chief executive.
Some analysts said that Mr. Ghosn’s compensation may have prompted an outsize response to the alleged financial misconduct.
“Japanese media seems to be playing the ire of the public against large compensation of C.E.O.s to support the charge, but the inequality in compensation between ordinary workers and C-class managers are moral issues, not criminal issues,” said Takuji Okubo, managing director and chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors in Tokyo, referring to positions like chief executive and chief financial officer.
“This dramatic arrest does seem excessive for what he has been alleged to have done,” he continued. “If he evaded a huge amount of tax to the authorities, the arrest would be justified.” But, Mr. Okubo said, given that the allegations involve not declaring income to corporate regulators, “I think this seems excessive.”
There is no current allegation that Mr. Ghosn did not pay appropriate taxes on his income.
Renault, which owns a 43 percent stake in Nissan, appointed a temporary leadership team on Tuesday to fill the gap created by Mr. Ghosn’s arrest, but has said that he remains chairman and chief executive.