Toyota global communications chief resigns following drug arrest

Toyota’s global communications chief, who was arrested on suspicion of illegally importing prescription drugs into Japan, has resigned.

Julie Hamp was detained in Tokyo on June 18 following an incident in which authorities discovered the American had shipped oxycodone pills – a powerful painkiller – to herself.

Hamp was arrested after police raided Toyota’s Tokyo offices where they discovered 57 pills of the powerful painkiller tucked away in a package Hamp sent to herself while moving from the US to Japan. Strict Japanese drug laws prohibit foreigners from importing prescription drugs without significant documentation.

The 55 year-old has remained in custody since her arrest and can be retained for up to 23 days without bail or formal charges. Depending on the charges, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

Toyota said in a statement that it "accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders".

Toyota president Akio Toyoda held a press conference following Hamp’s arrest and said she was "a close friend" and an "invaluable" part of the company. He apologised for "the confusion surrounding recent events" but said he believed that she had not knowingly broken Japanese law.

Without commenting on the ongoing investigation, the company acknowledged that it did not do enough to help foreigners integrate into Japan and said it would “learn from this incident to help ensure a secure working environment for everyone at Toyota around the world as we continue to take the steps necessary to become a truly global company".

The incident marks a setback for the car manufacturer who have pushed for greater diversity within the company and had only appointed Hamp the global communications chief three months ago.

Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota’s senior managing officer, will take over her duties and continue to oversee the public relations group.

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