An American executive at Toyota Motor Corp. who was arrested for importing painkillers that are banned in Japan without a prescription appears not to have any health condition requiring their use, an investigative source said Saturday.
A routine health checkup conducted after the arrest of managing officer Julie Hamp on Thursday to examine her health status prior to detention showed she did not have any particular problem, the source said.
The first female managing officer at the carmaker was arrested on suspicion of importing the pills in violation of the drug law, and the case was sent to prosecutors Friday. She has denied the allegation.
A total of 57 pills of oxycodone were placed in a package sent to her from an airport in Kentucky. The customs label on the package containing the pills declared the contents to be a necklace.
Oxycodone, categorized as a narcotic in Japan, is often used as a pain reliever by cancer patients and is said to be stronger than morphine. Overdosing on it can produce euphoric effects like heroin.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda declined to comment on her health condition at a hastily called news conference Friday, saying he believed she had not intended to break any law.
Toyoda also acknowledged the company may have failed to provide sufficient support for Hamp, its first foreign executive to be fully stationed in Japan.
“We apologize for causing alarm to the public,” Toyoda said. “We believe that the investigation will reveal that Ms. Julie Hamp did not have any intention of violating the law.”
He added, “She is an irreplaceable and cherished companion for me and for Toyota.”
The president said her arrest would not change the automaker’s policy of appointing the right person to the right job regardless of sex and nationality, in a bid to truly globalize the company.
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating who sent the pills to her and how she intended to use them.
Hamp, 55, a former General Motors and PepsiCo executive, joined Toyota Motor North America in 2012. She later became the first female managing officer of the parent company, a symbol of the auto giant’s new drive to diversify its management.
The day before her arrest, she attended a news conference introducing Didier Leroy, Toyota’s first non-Japanese executive vice president, at the automaker’s head office in Aichi Prefecture.