Toyota’s first senior female executive was arrested in Japan yesterday after customs officials allegedly found 57 Oxycodone tablets in a package mailed to her from the US. A package labeled "necklaces" was sent to Julie Hamp from the United States on June 8, and arrived in Japan on June 11, according to the Japan Times. Inside were several boxes with necklaces and pendants, and dozens of pills placed at the bottom, Reuters reports; the AP picks up local media reports that said the drugs were tucked in various parts of a jewelry box and adds that the package was sent by Hamp. According to police, Hamp "did not believe she had imported narcotics when she was arrested." Toyota is rallying around its head of public relations, expressing confidence that "the investigation will reveal that Ms. Julie Hamp had no intention to violate the law."
It is unknown whether the 55-year-old has a prescription for the opiates, but transport of the drug into Japan requires a special OK from the government. Hamp faces drug smuggling charges, and a Japanese attorney tells Reuters that the large number of pills found in the parcel may make it difficult for Hamp to avoid jail time. The AP spoke to PR experts who think a resignation may be in the cards for her even if it was an innocent goof, as that would suggest a "lack of awareness about a country she would be expected to have some familiarity with." Toyota President Akio Toyoda today apologized for the arrest and compared his employees to his kids: "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." (Read more Toyota stories.)