Japan Earns Nissan

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is on track to be the highest-paid executive in Japan for the fourth time in five years. Ghosn's salary and bonuses last year rang the register to the tune of $9.8 million (995 million yen), and when stock dividends are added to the equation, the exec's total pay crested a billion yen. That represents a 0.7-percent increase over his pay from the previous year. Ghosn earned an additional $3.1 million as CEO of Renault.

According to Bloomberg, Ghosn's compensation was announced at a shareholder's meeting in Japan, prompting an explanation from the CEO. "I understand the sensitivity of the issue," Ghosn said. "Being in Japan should not be a handicap to attract talent. We need the best minds, we need the best talents."

Few would argue with that assessment, we'd guess, but it doesn't answer the question of whether Ghosn is the most talented CEO in Japan. Akio Toyoda, head of Toyota in Japan, earned 230 yen (though, as a large shareholder in Toyota, Toyoda's dividend payments bring him closer to Ghosn) in compensation while steering his automaker to a profit that was five times higher than Nissan's. Honda President Takanobu Ito was paid the comparatively small sum of 150 million yen last year.

Executives in Japan, though, are generally not as well paid as those in other parts of the world. Ford's Alan Mulally, for example, earned more than twice what Ghosn did last year, at $23 million. GM CEO Mary Barra could receive as much as $14.4 million after her first full year at the helm. VW chief Martin Winterkorn was paid around $20 million for his services, followed by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche's $11.2 million paycheck.