If Toyota had done a better job in assisting its top communications executive with her relocation to Japan, she might have avoided arrest for violating the country’s laws on controlled substances, the maker’s CEO suggested today.
Julie Hamp, chief communications officer, was arrested after she attempted to mail herself 57 oxycodone pills. They were found by authorities in an envelope with other personal items, according to reports.
During a press conference earlier today, Toyota President Akio Toyoda apologized for the incident and confirmed the company’s belief that Hamp had no intent of breaking the law. He also shouldered some of the responsibility for the event.
“To me, executives and staff who are my direct reports are like my children,” he said. “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.”
Toyoda said the company failed to make sure Hamp’s move from the U.S. in April, when she was named head of the company’s global communications efforts, was handled properly. Hamp, 55, is one of the highest ranking women executives at the company. She was added as part of an effort to diversify the company’s senior leadership.
Toyoda said today he selected her for the job in April because of her “character.”
“For me and for Toyota, she is an indispensable and precious teammate,” he said. “I believe that we will learn that she had no intent to violate the law.”
(Click Here for details about the arrest of Toyota’s Julie Hamp.)
It is unclear if Hamp is still in custody or if she has been released; however, Japanese law is very strict about drug offenses, including prescription drugs. The police may detain a suspect for as long as 23 days without filing charges. Toyoda said the company was cooperating fully with the investigation.
According to reports, a person with an oxycodone prescription who wants to bring the medication into Japan must receive clearance from the government first and transport it on her person when entering into the country.
(Toyota appoints Julie Hamp to handle Toyota’s global PR efforts. For more, Click Here.)
Hamp told the police she was unaware she had done anything wrong. If she is found guilty of breaking Japanese laws, she could face years of jail time due to the number of pills she sent, Associated Press reported, and then she could be deported.
Hamp joined Toyota Motor North America, Inc. in 2012 as group vice president and chief communications officer. She was promoted to her current position as chief communications officer and a managing officer of the company in April.
(To see more about Japanese automakers gaining U.S. marketshare, Click Here.)
Before joining Toyota, she was executive vice present and chief communications officer at PepsiCo. Prior to that, Hamp held a variety of communications posts at General Motors for two decades, including vice president at the end of her tenure when she was under consideration for the top communications post at the automaker.