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Exec returns to Toyota as adviser after 2015 arrest in Japan

Yuri Kageyama

TOKYO (AP) – An American executive who resigned from Toyota after being arrested in Japan in 2015 on suspicion of drug law violations is back at the Japanese automaker, the company said yesterday.

Julie Hamp has been hired by Toyota Motor Corp’s North American operations to support Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, and advise the company on global management, sustainability, governance and global media relations.

She was arrested on suspicion of importing the prescription painkiller oxycodone, which is tightly controlled in Japan, after arriving in the country to head Toyota’s public relations in 2015.

Toyota said her return was not a problem because she was never prosecuted. “Toyota believes the incident in 2015 will not hinder her career going forward,” it said in response to a query from The Associated Press (AP).

In 2015, prosecutors said Hamp arranged with her father to have 57 oxycodone pills sent via air mail from the United States (US) to a Tokyo hotel. They decided not to pursue charges.

Toyota officials repeatedly apologised for the arrest, but Toyoda commented how he wished he could have done more to help Hamp. He also publicly defended her as an important member of the Toyota team.

Hamp’s was the first high-profile female promotion at Japan’s top automaker. She joined the company in 2012, overseeing marketing and communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the US She earlier worked for PepsiCo Inc and General Motors Co.

In her latest assignment with Toyota, Hamp will also work on the English version of Toyota’s own media, Toyota Times, according to the maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models.

Former highest ranking woman executive of Toyota Motor Corp Julie Hamp leaves Harajuku police station after being released, in Tokyo on July 8, 2015. PHOTO: AP