Toyota exec arrested in Japan on narcotics allegations – USA TODAY
TOKYO — Toyota’s global communications chief was arrested in Japan on Thursday over accusations she smuggled narcotics into the country.
Julie Hamp, an American who was appointed to the automaker’s top global communications role last year, stands accused of bringing 57 narcotic pills from the United States to the airport in Narita on June 8, Kyodo News Service reported.
She denied the allegations, the agency reported.
Toyota, reached by USA TODAY on Thursday morning, is backing Hamp.
“Toyota has been made aware of Miss Hamp’s arrest but has no further facts in light of the ongoing investigation by authorities,” the automaker said. “We are confident, however, that once the investigation is complete it will be revealed that there was no intention by Miss Hamp to violate any law.”
Hamp was arrested Thursday at the hotel where she is staying in Tokyo on charges of trying to smuggle the tablets into Japan via international mail, according to NHK.
NHK reported that customs officials alerted Tokyo Metropolitan police on June 11 about the alleged infringement and that police have been investigating. No further details were available.
Hamp, one of Toyota’s first female executives on a global level, ascended to the top public relations role in April. She had previously served as chief communications officer for Toyota’s North American operations.
Before joining Toyota, the Queens, NY., native served as the lead communications officer at PepsiCo. She also spent about two decades earlier in her career at General Motors. She was viewed as a potential contender for GM’s top communications job in 2014 before the company went in another direction.
Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, at Temple University’s Japan Campus, said drug laws are much stricter in Japan than in the U.S. or other Western countries.
“Japan is not a country where you want to get charged with illegal possession of drugs,” Dujarric said.
Spitzer reported from Japan and Bomey reported from McLean, Va.