Toyota executive Hamp arrested in Japan on suspected drug law violation, reports say

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Communications Officer Julie Hamp was arrested for a suspected violation of Japanese drug law, Japanese media reported today, citing Tokyo police.

A Toyota spokeswoman said the company was aware of the report and was checking on the facts of the matter.

Kyodo News Agency said Hamp, an American, was arrested on suspicion of violating the law by bringing pills containing illegal substances into Japan.

Public broadcaster NHK said Hamp had received Oxycodone pain medication in the mail.

Hamp, a former General Motors executive, was the first woman to join the executive ranks at Toyota when she was appointed to her position in April.

Police allege Hamp imported 57 pills from the United States through Narita airport on June 8, according to Kyodo News. She has denied the allegations, Kyodo said.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that the pills allegedly arrived via international mail and were intercepted by customs. It said authorities arrested her earlier today at a Tokyo hotel.

A spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police was unable to immediately comment on the reports.

Conflicting laws

Japan’s strict drug enforcement laws are often at odds with those of the United States. It is illegal to bring in even over-the-counter drugs common in the U.S., including such cold medicines as Sudafed or Actifed.

The differing standards can be a rude awakening to unsuspecting Americans. The Web site for the U.S. Embassy in Japan has a special section on Japan’s stringent laws, warning Americans to also exercise caution when having medicines mailed to them from abroad. “If you fail to follow Japanese law, you may be arrested and detained,” it says.

Earlier this year, Japanese authorities arrested an aspiring English teacher from Oregon, after her mother mailed her a packet of Adderall to treat attention deficit disorder. According to local media reports, the woman’s mother is a physician and issued the prescription but sent it in an unmarked package for privacy reasons.

Japan prohibits Adderall as a stimulant, even though it is available by prescription in the United States.

The woman was detained for 18 days and released only after members of Congress and U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, intervened on her behalf, reports said.

The woman later said she was shocked by the arrest and didn’t know about Japan’s Adderall ban. But she told The Oregonian newspaper the detention facility was “not anything terrifying,” according to the Associated Press wire service.

That report said she was fed bento box meals during her detention at the center and did daily chores.

Reuters and Hans Greimel of Automotive News contributed to this report.

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