Toyota’s first female executive, appointed as the head of public relations in April, was arrested in Japan Thursday over accusations of drug smuggling. The Toyota executive, Julie Hamp, mailed a package to herself from Kentucky. Japanese customs officials found 57 oxycodone pills on June 11 at the bottom of the package and accused Hamp of trying to import the drug. Hamp denied the package contained the substance and claimed it was a necklace.
The Asahi Shimbun wrote, “When custom officials at Narita Airport checked an international parcel addressed to Julie Hamp, a 55-year-old American, they found pills, placed in bags, at the bottom of the parcel, Tokyo police said… abuse of oxycodone has become a social problem in the United States.”
According to the Asahi Shimbun, individuals who are prescribed a drug such as oxycodone must show documentation from their doctor to the health ministry in Japan and have the drug on their person. They must have permission from the health ministry to have their prescribed medication with them in the country. Using international mail to bring in the drugs is illegal.
Oxycodone is a strong narcotic pain reliever. Japan has strict laws against the drug — while it’s legal in the United States with a prescription, the substance is illegal in Japan. According to Tokyo police, the Toyota executive violated the country’s Narcotics Control Act by attempting to mail herself the oxycodone.
At a news conference today, Toyota CEO Ako Toyoda apologized for Hamp’s arrest and said the company should have better prepared Hamp for her relocation to Japan from the U.S.
“To me, executives and staff who are my direct reports are like my children. It’s the responsibility of a parent to protect his children, and if a child causes problems, it’s also a parent’s responsibility to apologize.”
Toyota also released a statement and stated they’re “sorry for causing a stir.”
The statement went on to say, “We believe that it will be made clear in the investigation that she had no intention to violate the law.”
Hired to diversify Toyota’s male-dominated group of executives, Hamp, the new Toyota executive, joined the company’s North American unit in 2012 and relocated to Tokyo this month. She’s staying at a hotel.
If indicted, Toyota’s newest executive could face years in prison followed by deportation. If the executive is indicted for the drugs for personal use, Hamp might not be able to get a suspended sentence due to the large number of pills.
[Image via Reuters/Koyodo]