TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. expressed confidence in communications chief Julie Hamp, its first female senior executive, after she was arrested Thursday on suspicion of a Japanese drug offense involving a prescribed medication, saying she did not intend to break any laws.
Hamp, 55, who was appointed managing officer and chief communications officer for Toyota in April, told police she did not think she had imported an illegal substance, a spokesman for Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department said.
"Toyota has been made aware of Ms. Hamp's arrest but has no further facts in light of the ongoing investigation by the authorities," Toyota spokesman Shino Yamada said in an emailed statement.
"We will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation. We are confident, however, that once the investigation is complete, it will be revealed that there was no intention on Ms. Hamp's part to violate any law."
The police spokesman said Oxycodone was sent via international mail from the U.S. to Tokyo's Narita Airport. The package was mailed June 8 from the U.S. and intercepted by customs agents at the airport on June 11, he said. Hamp was arrested at a Tokyo hotel, he said.
He added that only specially designated parties were allowed to import the drug under Japanese law. The police spokesman said he did not have information about how many pills were seized, but Japan’s NHK national broadcaster said the package had 57 pills.
Hamp, a former General Motors executive, was the first woman to join the top executive ranks at Toyota when she was appointed to her position in April.
She was hired by Toyota Motor North America three years ago as the company sought to repair an image battered by a string of recalls and class-action lawsuits. She had previously spent five years at PepsiCo and, before that, 25 years at GM.
Japan’s strict drug enforcement laws are often at odds with those of the United States. It is illegal to bring in even over-the-counter drugs common in the U.S., including such cold medicines as Sudafed or Actifed.
The differing standards can be a rude awakening to unsuspecting Americans. The website for the U.S. Embassy in Japan has a special section on Japan’s stringent laws, warning Americans to also exercise caution when having medicines mailed to them from abroad. “If you fail to follow Japanese law, you may be arrested and detained,” it says.
Earlier this year, Japanese authorities arrested an aspiring English teacher from Oregon, after her mother mailed her a packet of Adderall to treat attention deficit disorder. According to local media reports, the woman’s mother is a physician and issued the prescription but sent it in an unmarked package for privacy reasons.
Japan prohibits Adderall as a stimulant, even though it is available by prescription in the United States.
The woman was detained for 18 days and released only after members of Congress and U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, intervened on her behalf, reports said.
The woman later said she was shocked by the arrest and didn’t know about Japan’s Adderall ban. But she told The Oregonian newspaper the detention facility was “not anything terrifying,” according to the Associated Press wire service.
That report said she was fed bento box meals during her detention at the center and did daily chores.
Reuters and Hans Greimel of Automotive News contributed to this report.
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