TOKYO (AP) — Julie Hamp, Toyota Motor Corp.’s new head of public relations, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of importing an illegal pain medicine into Japan, Tokyo police said.
Hamp, an American, was appointed in April as Toyota’s first female top executive. She had been moving her things to Japan from California, where she had been head of communications for Toyota’s U.S. operations.
Police said she was arrested at her Tokyo hotel on suspicion of bringing in oxycodone, a painkiller that is a narcotic and is illegal in Japan. It was found by customs officials in a package she sent to herself by air mail from the United States.
Police said Hamp denied that she tried to import an illegal drug.
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Hamp was being held in custody and was not immediately available for comment. It was unclear when she might be released. Japanese authorities can detain suspects without charge for up to 23 days.
Toyota spokesman Itsuki Kurosu confirmed that Hamp had been arrested and said the company would cooperate fully in 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 company said in a comment.
The U.S. Embassy in Japan’s Internet site says people should be careful mailing or bringing drugs for personal use into Japan because they may require special papers or may be illegal, even if a doctor has prescribed them in the United States.
“If you fail to follow Japanese law, you may be arrested and detained,” it warns.
Before joining Toyota in 2012, Hamp worked for PepsiCo Inc. and General Motors Co.
She oversaw marketing and communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the U.S. before moving to her current job in Japan.
Toyota highlighted her appointment as part of its ongoing efforts to become increasingly global and encourage diversity.
Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama