Julie Hamp, an American who was Toyota's top female executive, resigned two weeks after being arrested on suspicion of illegally importing drugs. Fred Katayama reports.
Toyota's first female managing officer is stepping down. The announcement comes two weeks after Julie Hamp was arrested on suspicion of illegally importing drugs into Japan. Hamp, an American, had just moved to Tokyo to become the chief communications officer at the world's largest auto maker. She was part of Toyota's drive to diversify its Japanese male-dominated C-suite. She was arrested after customs officials found tablets of the narcotic painkiller, oxycodone, in a package shipped to her from the U.S. Bringing that into Japan requires prior government approval. Investigative sources said some of the pills were found in a package that had a customs label declaring the contents as necklaces. Some of the pills were inside an accessory case and a paper bag; others were found in several bundles. Toyota held an emergency press conference the day of the arrest. President Akio Toyoda apologized for causing alarm and said the company believed Hamp didn't intend to violate the law, adding that she is an "irreplaceable and cherished companion." But apparently not irreplaceable. Toyota said a senior executive will take over her role on an interim basis. Hamp remains in custody. In the end, the person who was promoted to improve Toyota's communications put a dent in its public image.