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Could Hamp’s detention reinforce prejudice?


The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Julie Hamp, Toyota Motor Corp.’s first female managing officer, on June 18 on suspicion of importing oxycodone, an opioid used to relieve pain. The drug is tightly controlled in Japan but can be imported into the country with a prescription if certain procedures are followed.

Hamp has since tendered her resignation via a lawyer, according to a statement posted on Toyota’s website on Wednesday. She hasn’t been able to speak with the company directly because she has been in detention since her arrest.

According to weekly magazine Shukan Shincho, Hamp is being held in a detention cell at a police station not far from the United Nations University in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. She hasn’t been formally charged yet and the odds are very high that she will be held for the entire 23 days allowed under Japanese law.

Hamp told prosecutors she had the powerful painkiller shipped from the U.S. to ease problems with her knees, The Japan Times reported Wednesday, noting that her father is believed to have mailed the package to her.

Hamp claims she was unaware she was breaking the law.

It doesn’t matter — once prosecutors have filed formal charges, a guilty verdict is almost certain. The country has a conviction rate that exceeds 99 percent, which has been attributed to prosecutors presenting judges with only the most obviously guilty cases.

Those in detention are routinely treated as if they are guilty and if suspects don’t know how the system works on their first day inside, they soon learn quickly from other inmates. Suspects who protest their innocence are treated badly. Suspects who don’t confess to committing a crime are unlikely to be granted bail at all. If prosecutors decide to file formal charges, a suspect could be held in detention until their trial — which could be months away.

What is life like in the police detention cells? Suspects are put in a cell with several other inmates. They’re not allowed to call each other by name, only by a number. Inmates wake up at 6 a.m.; they go to bed at 9 p.m. The food is always served cold, except on rare occasions. Suspects aren’t allowed access to a phone, iPod or computer. They generally aren’t allowed reading materials unless they are in Japanese.

Suspects are allowed one 20-minute visit per day, excluding their lawyer. They have the right to remain silent but don’t have the right to have an attorney present. The lights in the cells are kept on all night. Inmates are not allowed to cover their heads. The police can interrogate suspects for as long as they like, although they generally restrict this to no more than eight hours a day.

The monotony, poor treatment, isolation and despair that suspects experience in detention are enough to make many jump at any chance to be released before their trial. It has resulted in “confessions” that have later proven false.

Hamp is likely to still be in detention at the time this article is published.

At first, Toyota was very supportive of her. President Akio Toyoda apologized for the incident at a news conference, saying he believed Hamp had no intention of breaking the law.

“To me, executives and staff are like my children,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of a parent to protect their children.”

His unabashed support for his ‘child’ did not sit well with the police, who probably felt as if they had lost face. They raided Toyota’s offices on June 23.

The police have judiciously leaked information to bolster their case since the arrest and the country’s newspapers have had no hesitation in reporting it under headlines such as “Medical exam shows no need for painkiller,” “Police fearlessly take on Goliath company” and the vaguely xenophobic “Diversification a problem for Japan.”

In the end, Toyota accepted her resignation on July 1, because of “the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders.”

Does anyone really believe that a high-paid executive of Toyota was smuggling oxycodone into Japan in an attempt to get high or, worse, sell it to a third party?

However, the police and the prosecutors aren’t bad people — they’re just doing their job.

In 2002, Briton Nicholas Baker was accused of smuggling drugs but he claimed he was set up by another man, James Prunier.

The police in Belgium, who were pursuing Prunier, wanted to provide evidence to courts in Japan that might have exonerated Baker. However, the prosecutors refused to accept the evidence.

After persistent nagging, a representative from the Chiba Prosecutor’s Office met with me. I asked him why the prosecution refused to talk to the Belgian police. He looked at me, dumbfounded.

“We have everything we need to win this case,” he said. “Why would we want evidence that weakens it?”

Prosecutors don’t seem to care so much about justice — it all comes down to winning the case. Hamp may simply be on the losing side; her guilt or innocence is irrelevant.

That said, the arrest took place after a meeting of Toyota stockholders, suggesting that the police showed some concern for the corporation.

National Police Agency sources say Eriko Yamatani, chairman of the Public Safety Commission, which oversees the country’s police force, was consulted as well before the arrest. This in of itself isn’t odd — Toyota is a major pillar of the domestic economy.

It’s worth noting, however, that weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun has previously accused Yamatani of being associated with Zaitokukai, an ultranationalist group that has been condemned by the United Nations, the United States and the National Police Agency.

In the end, Hamp will probably confess — almost everyone does. Unfortunately, however, her “confession” may only serve to reinforce Zaitokukai’s view that non-Japanese are nothing but trouble.

There’s another word for a presumption of guilt or preconceived opinion that is not reasonable: prejudice.

Dark Side of the Rising Sun is a monthly column that takes a behind-the-scenes look at news in Japan.

  • Liars N. Fools

    I am not at all an admirer of Yamatani, and the tough police and prosecutor criminal procedure are subjects of the American human rights report, BUT where is the connection with Zaitoku and the Hamp case? Seems a bit far fetched that the right is engaged in a plot to thwart Toyota from having a foreign woman executive.

    • Steve Jackman

      As I pointed out in my other comment, Japanese companies can be very tribal and factional, with many of these factions being extremely nationalistic and xenophobic. So, it is quite likely that either one of these factions inside Toyota, or someone influential with a nationalist and xenophobic agenda outside Toyota was out to get Julie Hamp. Clearly, they knew what a chilling effect such a high profile arrest would have on any other Japanese company contemplating bringing in outsiders into their management ranks (especially considering how conservative and risk-averse most Japanese companies are).

      • Liars N. Fools

        So someone got to Hamp’s father and made him send the drugs to Hamp with an inaccurate customs declaration. That is very credible. Since you are seemingly convinced this is true you had better get this information to the Embassy or, better yet, some member of Congress to stop the travesty of justice set to befall Hamp. But maybe the Embassy is part of the plot, too.

      • Steve Jackman

        We do not know the full story yet, since Julie Hamp is still in Police custody and has not been allowed to make any direct public statements herself. The only thing we know is what her lawyers have supposedly said.

        Sadly, Japanese lawyers representing foreign clients in Japan are not there to get justice or to advocate the best interests of their foreign clients. Their main job is to serve the “system” and anyone who knows the Japanese judicial system knows that it is extremely racist, nationalist and xenophobic.

        Japanese lawyers are just a cog in the machine, cowering and catering to every wish of their prosecutor and judge-masters. Why do you thing foreigners are not allowed to become full-fledged Bengoshi lawyers in Japan? It is because they will usually not go along with the violation of the attorney code of ethics, which Japanese lawyers have absolutely no problem doing. In Japan, there is not even any attorney-client privilege, so Japanese lawyers routinely divulge damaging information their foreign clients may have shared with them to the judge, prosecutor and the other side’s lawyers. Japan’s judicial system is worse than many third-world countries.

      • Liars N. Fools

        So let us indeed wait for the full story before making an allegation that she is being railroaded by a vast rightist, xenophobic conspiracy and before you present evidence of such to the Embassy based on your profound knowledge of how things work in Japan.

        If memory serves you are also the person who claims that it is well documented that the Japanese authorities engage in the extra-judicial killing of prisoners.

      • Steve Jackman

        “If memory serves you are also the person who claims that it is well documented that the Japanese authorities engage in the extra-judicial killing of prisoners.”

        This is simply not true, since what I actually said was that several foreigners have died while in detention in Japan. I challenge you to show me where I have said this, since I have never written “extra-judicial killing”. Those are your words, not mine, in your ongoing campaign to discredit me.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Okay, here’s a fact. I said “At least people generally get to Japanese jails without being killed.”. You said “Not true, especially in the case of foreigners in Japan.”. Liars N. Fools asked for proof of this, and you gave none. “Oh, it’s been well documented. Read the news.” But that’s your response pretty much any time anyone asks you for proof. Which is a good way of saying you don’t have said proof.

        (The prior discussion can be found attached to the JT article “U.S. rights report slams Japan on child abuse, prison conditions, asylum system”) from June 26, 2015)

        Pssssst… that’s proof.

      • Steve Jackman

        You’ve just proven my point that Liars N. Fools was lying, since I never said that Japan engages in extra-judicial killings.

        As for your other point, I expect that if people are going to comment on Japan’s dismal human rights record, they should at the very least be up to date on news relating to this topic which has already been widely reported in the media. I’m not interested in spoon feeding other posters. Ignorance is their problem, not mine. What next, someone will ask me to teach them English alphabet?

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Sure, pal. You said that people, especially foreigners, in Japan, have a habit of not getting to jail alive, meaning they die before they get to jail. Not sure what part of that you don’t get, maybe you didn’t mean it, or perhaps English is not your first language. At any rate, from there, when you were asked to back this up, you showed your refusal to do so by saying “read the news”. Say what? If you’re not going to show what exactly you’re talking about, avoiding it by having people search the internet doesn’t help, and it just shows that you’re unwilling to show facts. People shouldn’t spend any more than a second reading anything you say before moving on to another poster who will back up things when they’re requested to. Anyhow, I’ve put in more than my second, sadly, and need to move on. Spout what you like without backing it up – I – and hopefully, the general public – won’t be reading it. So sad.

      • Steve Jackman

        Did you just call me “pal”? Please don’t do that.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Sure thing, pal.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        Steve, it looks to me like you are now being attacked by the near-ubiquitous “Toyota Trolls.” They are relentlessly irrational and abusive once they find a comment thread that they want to destroy. So let’s go somewhere else and discuss the facts like reasonable people.

      • Steve Jackman

        Betsy, I hear you.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        How interesting, Steve. I read “The Agency,” thank you. How sad it is when any entity (govt or non-govt) takes to Twitter and comment threads to destroy and manipulate rather than to share good things among fellow humans, good things including exposing the truth. I have no doubt that Toyota or one of its proxies runs a troll farm. My friends who work to expose Toyota’s sudden acceleration cover-up, by posting info about terrible car crashes, etc. on comment threads, have been viciously attacked by obvious trolls. One who has ventured a few technical comments, because he is an engineer, collected these comments. I posted them on my blog under a title “For whom the bell trolls.” There you can read them and imagine how much money Toyota is paying to discredit drivers and auto safety advocates, and to help cement the public’s mistaken belief that Toyota’s vehicle electronics are safe.

        Another thing that I learned recently is that the Japanese government seems to have contracted for the dispatch of PR people to locations in the US to help manipulate US public opinion when Abe made his speech to Congress. That means flying them to various US cities! Was that a good way to spend Japanese taxpayer money?
        So, you nasty trolls who are reading this, what are you getting paid to do your work?

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Oh, I haven’t even commented on my opinion on this particular story (but by all means, feel free to call me whatever type of troll you like, as it suits you). I was simply calling Steve out on his lie, and providing proof of said lie. Since I never said squat about this Toyota story specifically, care to tell me how you came by that opinion? Because I called Steve out on a lie, I must therefore be pro-Japan until I die? Careful, Betsy. Don’t be calling people a troll from beneath a bridge.

      • Liars N. Fools

        The definition of extrajudicial killing from Wikipedia:

        An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are mostly seen by humanity to be unethical, since they bypass the due process of the legal jurisdiction in which they occur. Extrajudicial killings often target leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures and may be carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the armed forces or police.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        It is also entirely possible that Toyota will demand eternal silence from Julie in exchange for various kinds of help and for their own silence. So we may never know the whole story.

      • Steve Jackman

        Not only is it possible, but highly probable that the authorities and Toyota will demand Julie’s eternal silence in exchange for any leniency. This is why she is still in detention, so as to give all involved enough time to make her malleable and get her consent to forever keep her silence. It is really just SOP in Japan, where secrecy is of the utmost importence. One thing I’ve learned in all these years living in Japan is that the public version is almost never the real truth. So you’re right in that we’ll probably never know the whole story.

      • S. Urista

        Quiet! No logical arguments allowed here! We have a right to cling to our not-so-carefully concealed bigotry by saying that any and all ill-fortune to befall a foreigner in Japan is *never* the foreigner’s fault.

    • Betsy Benjaminson

      I think that Yamatani may not have engaged in a “plot,” but saw an opportunity to advance a pre-existing nationalistic agenda. …Also, if you were an ambitious Japanese businesswoman, how would you feel if you were passed up for promotion in favor of a foreigner? Wouldn’t you prefer that capable Japanese women be promoted to prominent positions of power? That seems a more logical approach to advancing diversity within the Japanese business world. Hamp’s promotion gave her and Toyota simply a “face” without the substance of her own actual power. Promoted to such a rank, a Japanese woman would have to wield real power, and that would shake things up much more among the men.

    • Yosemite_Steve

      Adelstein never implied anything about a right wing plot. He simply pointed out that some consideration was given to Toyota (as I would certainly expect: prosecutors have a lot of power but they are still operating within a political context where personal contacts are very important and corporate power is huge) while Yamatani has sympathies with the right wing agenda and he had something to do with the decision to prosecute Hamp. You (and others) are the ones equating influence with a plot. I think you are really twisting the subtle connection that Adelstein made into something very different from what he actually wrote and then going to the absurd level of implying that someone is saying that sending the drugs was part of a political plot. Actually I guess that is only addressed to Steve Jackman who seems to have extreme ideas, but I don’t believe he actually said anything nearly that absurd either. This seems to be a cheap shot on your part to misinterpret into absurdity.

    • Yosemite_Steve

      By the way, what’s up with giving yourselves the thumbs ups? One can safely assume that you and Urista agree with your own opinions. Do you think that agreeing with yourselves makes your ideas and opinions more impressive?

  • Ralph Tremmel

    The article makes me speechless. I do not wish to doubt upon the report. But if I didn’t know it’s a report from Japan, I would guess Russia or China. Can someone else who also is familiar with the conditions there can confirm this?

    • TomokoHasegawa

      Yes. This is normal procedure. Japan is in many regards not a country with rule of law. Please look beyond the facade.

    • Betsy Benjaminson

      Conditions in Japanese detention centers and prisoners have been described by former detainees and prisoners, and there are also documentaries. Just Google and you will find plenty.

  • Steve Jackman

    Foreigners who have worked at large Japanese corporations here in Japan know that their corporate culture is dominated by constant factional warfare. Anyone who has watched Japanese period dramas on NHK will also know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, foreign executives often become unwitting pawns in this, since they don’t know how to navigate the minefield that is corporate Japan. The problem for foreign workers is especially compounded by the fierce and institutionalized racism, bigotry, prejudice and xenophobia they encounter within Japanese companies, something which Japanese workers don’t have to deal with.

    Having worked in management at Japanese companies here in Japan, I have witnessed many foreign executives struggle and be pushed to despair by Japanese companies. They could never have been prepared for the feudal, insular, close minded and backward attitudes they encountered at these companies. Their past successes and professional accomplishments meant nothing in the face of relentless racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, power harassment, bullying, sexual harassment and physical violence (yes, even physical assaults are commonplace at Japanese companies), which are a huge part of the corporate culture at Japanese companies.

    Japanese companies are hostile places for expat workers. Many Japanese hate and deeply resent having to work with foreigners and they are constantly hatching plans to saboutage and isolate them, and try to make them fail. They are frequently undercut and blindsided, for no reason other than that they are foreigners and many Japanese feel that Japanese companies should be the exclusive domain of Japanese workers. To them, foreign workers are just intruding on their sacred turf and destroying the (myth of) Wa, or Japanese harmony. I don’t think foreign workers can ever be prepared for the mistreatment and abuse that are hurled at them at Japanese companies.

    So, I think Julie Hamp was a victim in all of this. She had a very successful career at GM and PepsiCo before joining Toyota. People who know her say she never did drugs, even back in her college days in the U.S. The fact that she now felt the need to take such strong medication says more to me about the difficulties foreign workers face in coping with a very hostile and alien Japanese corporate culture, than it does about any personal failings she may have.
    Remember, this is the same country which drove Crown Princess Masako to such deep depression that she rarely engages in any public events. This is a woman who graduated from Harvard and was a successful career woman before getting married. We should not blame Julie Hamp, the same way we should not blame Crown Princess Masako. They are both victims of a Japan which is extremely rigid, can be very harsh and cuel towards outsiders and refuses to adapt to the changing times.

    It would therefore be a mistake to focus too much on the illegal importation of medication by Julie Hamp. A much more important aspect of this story is how working for Japanese corporations pushes many otherwise very successful foreign executives to the edge and sometimes over the cliff. Unfortunately for her, I very much doubt that the prosecutors or the police will take any of these factors into account.

    • Pedro

      As a former manager at Toyota, I would agree with the reality of working as a foreigner in Japan. You can be a model employee but still get systematically destroyed by factions of Japanese who decide that they dislike you or your country.

      I find it amazing how naive Hamp was going into Japan joining such a xenophobic culture as Toyota’s. To be fair, some large Japanese companies are not as extreme as Toyota. Toyota’s executive ranks hold much intense hatred for America. I am happily watching Tesla (and maybe soon Apple) eat their lunch.

      However, Hamp never even got to the point in her tenure at Toyota to be destroyed. She had just started the job and was in the “honeymoon” arrival stage where everything is wondrous and “kawaii”. This is the Japan that most foreigners experience on a vacation. I doubt she speaks more than a few words of the language. She was in for a world of rude awakenings, but this “drug bust” halted this path. She simply had not been there long enough – so prosecutors will not hear of any sort of Japanese corporate induced stress as a cause.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        Remember, Pedro, that Hamp worked for Toyota in LA for a few years already. That may well have been plenty stress already, given the amount of beyond-spin PR that must be issued by her department, and the role that American executives are forced to play as the company’s public mouthpieces who are not let in on any real understanding what is going on among the tightly networked Japanese who really run the American operations. Only the Japanese get the real story of what is happening because the Americans won’t necessarily go along with their policies if they learn the truth, as per Chris Tinto saying “someone’s going to go to jail!” (quoted by the DOJ in their fraud charges press release) or as per Jim Lentz who spilled the beans to Congress that the sticky pedal does not cause high speed sudden acceleration and that the causes of 70% of SUA are “unknown. ” I think this arrest saved Hamp from a much worse fate in Toyota.

      • Pedro

        You are correct, she must have been quite aware of Toyota’s program and was a “good mouthpiece” for their use. But if she needed medication to cope with stress at this point, surely she must have recognized that accepting a promotion into the abyss of Toyota’s headquarters would only be more challenging.

        Toyota USA and Toyota City Japan are different worlds of abuse and I agree that she is probably fortunate to have fallen into a Japanese prison instead. It may have saved her career and life.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        Pedro, if Toyota (even to some extent Toyota USA) operates on its members like a kind of organized ‘legal crime’ gang, then they could have made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, to quote a cliche. I am not sure how aware she was of Toyota’s program for her in Japan, but if she was passed over for the top PR spot at PepsiCo, this offer to move to Toyota HQ and be their top PR chief might have been her bes- by-far career move. And if she had already become oxy-dependent (as far fetched as that seems, given her background), could that have clouded her judgment as to her prospects in Toyota Japan? my speculation…we may never know — but I hope she eventually recovers her strength and writes a tell-all book. Literary agents, please step forward and find her lawyers!

      • Steve Jackman

        You are absolutely correct. In my experience as an American expat in Japan working at Japanese companies, I have found them to be extremely anti-American. It is as if in their minds WW2 never ended and they are still on a war footing against the U.S., except this time the war is economic not military. If more of my fellow Americans knew how anti-American most Japanese companies are, they may have second thoughts before buying Japanese products.

      • S. Urista

        Rubbish. Absolute nonsensical rubbish.

    • S. Urista

      Oh please. Japanese firms are generally far less political than the Western firms I’ve worked at. Japanese firms are often bafflingly frustrating for a host of different reasons, but ‘hostile and alien’ corporate culture is not one of them.

      I can’t for the life of me figure out why you want to claim that a foreigner resigning from a PR role at a very high-profile firm because she was arrested for drug smuggling is evidence that Japanese companies ‘hate and resent’ working with foreigners and are always working on plans to ‘sabotage them’.

      Sounds like you had a bad experience – maybe you just sucked at your job?

      • Yosemite_Steve

        You were making a reasonable argument until you fell into the gutter of really stupid ad hominem. Why the need to be such a total jerk?

      • Toolonggone

        Your argument in the first paragraph sounds nothing more than overgeneralization made by an opposing side–which is no better or worse than those you are arguing against. It has some merits, but doesn’t escape skepticism and stereotypes, either.

        Your last statement well illustrates what kind of personal character you have. It smacks your moral compass down to the ground.

  • Todd James

    If Julie Hamp was in charge of the communications surrounding Toyota North America’s planned move to Plano, TX (and other areas), then in light of this controversy, Toyota employees should demand an audit of those communications, and ultimately ask for a complete revamp of the entire communications infrastructure.

    Some are saying in these comments that the Japanese Toyota leadership
    is secretive and essentially uses foreigners to do their bidding. So if Hamp,
    her team, and the expert consultants she hired were simply ‘yes men,’ then as
    communicators they were not doing their jobs.

    The thousands of American workers who make Toyotas deserve to know what’s truly motivating the plan for them to move – before they uproot their lives based on tired and hollow messages that probably say things like, “employees are important; we have your best interests in mind, etc…”

    Communications professionals, like reporters, have a responsibility to be honest with their audiences (even if it’s an uphill battle against the Japanese establishment). Spin doctoring is yesterday’s method.

    If Hamp was promoted because she was a good ‘yes man’ then she, all of her staff, and all of her consultants should be removed, and the consulting firms (who were probably paid millions) should be asked to pay/re-pay for the communications re-do that gives Toyota employees a true ROI from an honest communications campaign.

    Whether or not Hamp is guilty (and I hope she’s not) is irrelevant to what these circumstances are revealing: systemic job failure that impacts thousands of American workers.

    • Betsy Benjaminson

      Nobody mentioned that one reason Toyota may have decided to move out of the LA area is earthquake risk. If that is an unspoken reason, then all the employees will be well served by the move.
      You are never going to get the full truth out of PR folks working for the Japanese because it is not their culture to disclose the truth. They publicly say (and say to their employees) what sounds good (called “tatemae”) and save the truth (“honne”) for the inner circles, if that.). Look up an article in the Huffington Post with a memo from an executive, Mr. Sasaki, and you will see a good example of an admission that it is what they do. Any PR folks who work for them have job conditions like that. It is what it is. No one at Toyota will ever “remove” the “yes-men.” After a “yes-man” does a super job with “beyond-spin,” then they are put out to a lovely retirement, where they are safe from those who would try to hold them accountable for what they said to the public.

  • Paul Martin

    Detained foreigners are abused: Amnesty International

    Foreigners in detention in Japan have suffered serious human rights violations, been denied adequate medical care and legal representation and are kept in solitary confinement for minor breaches of prison rules, Amnesty International said Monday.

    In a 46-page report titled “Japan: Ill-treatment of Foreigners in Detention,” the international human rights group alleges that Japanese immigration officials, prison guards and police have abused foreigners in detention with violent punishment, sexual assault and racist behavior.

    “Foreigners have been beaten by police, denied access to interpreters and lawyers, been forced to sign statements in languages they did not understand and punished for attempting to seek judicial redress for alleged human rights violations,” the news release said.

    The group submitted its report to the Japanese government for comment, said Pierre Robert, a researcher for the Amnesty International secretariat, at a news conference in Yurakucho, Tokyo. The government has released point-by-point counter-arguments in its response, in which it expressed displeasure at not being given ample time to prepare the reply.

    The government also said the group’s description of rights to legal representation is “extremely unfair.”

    “These descriptions are based only on the arguments of those concerned and are written in a conclusive way as if they are objective facts,” the government statement said.

    Robert said that because the government released its feedback to the group’s report, this indicates it is taking the matter seriously. An international team of Amnesty officials, including Robert, visited Japan for three weeks from late May to compile the report, the group officials said.

    It is only a matter of time before the discrimination and bias towards gaijin (foreigners} in Japan is exposed by the World’s media. Only then will attitudes towards Japan change when the West especially realize the VERITAS about who runs Japan and calls the real shots towards outsiders !

    You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time,
    but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

    Abraham Lincoln

  • Jonathan Fields

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she was getting high. A lot of people “self medicate” with opioid painkillers even if the original use was legitimate.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “Prosecutors don’t seem to care so much about justice-it all comes down to winning the case.” That says it all.

  • Liars N. Fools

    That criminal police investigation and prosecution procedures are very harsh in Japan compared to other countries is not doubted.

    That the true facts of the Hamp case are not known yet is also beyond doubt.

    It is also without doubt that there are those who want to make Hamp the poster woman of an anti-xenophobic campaign without knowing the as yet unknown facts of the case.

    I would say that those who want to paint the case without many facts of Hamp’s arrest have actually not done a good enough job of joining the dots. The article already hints at the connection between Yamatani, who was consulted about the arrest, and zaitoukukai. But this theory ignores the other rightist women in the Abe camp. There is, for example, Arimura. She is the person in charge of women’s advancement. But surely Japanese women cannot advance if a foreign woman is a high executive of Toyota, and so there is every reason to believe that Arimura is part of the conspiracy to destroy Hamp.

    Then there is Takaichi, another woman threatened by Hamp. Takaichi is very much associated with anti-Korean sentiments which ties her to zaitokukai which ties her to Yamatani. But wait, Takaichi and Inada switched places, with Inada now being a big policy person in the LDP. So the cabinet women right wingers are joined to the major woman right winger in the party, and they all have anti-foreign sentiments and as Japanese women, they must resent Hamp, too.

    But wait, these women rightists all were named to their positions by Abe Shinzo, probably with the direct help of Suga.

    So there we have it. There is a vast right wing xenophobic, especially anti-foreign women, cabal, and it is headed by none other than Abe Shinzo. Hamp does not stand a chance.

    Or we can just wait for the facts to come out, and not engage in speculation about a supposed plot. Or indulge those who feel victimized by the Japanese and who are not shy about venting their grievances and anger, using Hamp for their own purposes.

  • Toolonggone

    People have different opinions about Hamp or drug policy in Japan. But the key issue stems from problematic cultural assumptions under Japanese legal practice that rationalizes the dehumanization practice with disregard of grievance, evidence, health, medical conditions, etc.

  • S. Urista

    Jake, I like your posts and articles most of the time, but this misses the mark.

    I find it hard to believe that someone can doubt that a highly ranked executive at one of the biggest firms in the world in a high-profile role might be under just a wee bit of stress, and could easily be just as susceptible to addictions just like anybody else.

    The news reports so far – assuming they are accurate- suggest some effort was made to conceal the pills. Doesn’t seem so innocuous to me.

  • At Times Mistaken

    This article certainly does shine a light on the darker corners of the Japanese justice system and society at large but maybe it’s less enlightened than it could be.

    Sure, I can believe that Hamp had “the powerful painkiller shipped from the U.S. to ease problems with her knees.” The amount is such small potatoes that any profit gained by trying to “sell it to a third party” probably wouldn’t even cover the postage. I’ll bet somewhere there are even some big time smugglers having a huge laugh as they look at all the ink spilled over this case. The media coverage is meant to be entertaining after all. The drug offense is just the sideshow to the larger issue of diversity.

    While it may not make any sense to criminalize drug use and addiction, why wouldn’t I believe “that a high-paid executive of Toyota was smuggling oxycodone into Japan in an attempt to get high”? Would it be any more credulous for a Toyota factory line worker making a fraction of Hamp’s salary to be popping the contraband pain killers? The article seems to suggest so as it perpetuates the myth that crime is the prerogative of the poor.

    No matter the crime, a lot of the time, money and position serves to shield criminal offenders from the law. Perhaps in this case, the long arm of the law just reached around that shield.

    • At Times Mistaken

      I mean stay classist JT.

    • Jeffrey

      While it is highly unlikely that she intended to “deal” her supply (I imagine she was quite well paid, but you are quite mistaken about what Oxycodone can fetch on the open market), the excuse that the Oxycodone was for chronic knee pain is nonsense. A responsible orthopaedic surgeon would never prescribe an opiate, particularly not one as strong as Oxycodone, for knee pain. I had total knee replacement two years ago and 50 tabs of Hydrocodone (codeine, caffeine and acetaminophen) was all I got post surgery. Chronic knee pain is best treated with anti inflammatories and ice.

      If she needed to smuggle it, she may indeed be addicted, a not uncommon circumstance these days as pain medication in general is over-prescribed in the the U.S. Otherwise, she, Toyota, her American doctor and the Japanese government need to work something out prior to her being posted to Japan.

  • Betsy Benjaminson

    The news just broke that Julie is to be released by July 8, and that she will not be prosecuted. Yomiuri.

    • Yosemite_Steve

      Either the prosecutors have suddenly found compassion and reasonableness, or now that Julie is out of Toyota they have got what they wanted and now suddenly they don’t want to damage Toyota’s image any more. Julie has my deep sympathy but this seems contradictory and gives a bit of weight to the theory of political basis for going this far to start with, doesn’t it? Like it’s not actually that important to prosecute as long as she can be made to quit. Good that Julie’s detention is over, but somehow this really stinks to me and seems to make Jake’s point.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        Business as usual- both politicians and business elite

      • Yosemite_Steve

        Yes, of course it’s business as usual for the prosecutors and maybe the police to defer to elites and to keep any problems as low profile as possible. I’m fairly sure that the default under ordinary circumstances is to treat special people with special care. Doing favors for important people such as getting somebody out of trouble is very valuable currency which naturally flows up the chain of command on both the giving and receiving end. Same with taking special care to damage enemies very visibly as the case may be.

        How likely was this whole thing to have been “normal and highly impartial enforcement of the law and prosecution of justice”? Possible, but imo very, very unlikely. Julie was a total pawn, and seems very likely to have been used to call in favors on both sides both by throwing the book at her in the most public way possible and then let off the hook once gaijin woman executives were demonstrated to be huge liabilities.

        The way this was done is shocking, but of course in the Japanese press nobody will dare to call a spade a spade and all the huge noise is about how terrible a mistake it is to bring in foreign female execs. If you don’t believe that’s certainly what all the fuss is about and maybe even the whole prosecution and arrest from the get-go then then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        If you regard the world from a business perspective, that is, the main point of life is to make and control money, then it was indeed a mistake to promote Julie to a position in Japan. It was a mistake. More importantly, it was also a mistake from the perspective of proper human resources management. Akio-kun must not have grasped, or if he did grasp, he disregarded, the degree of difficulty of truly integrating an American woman into his organization, and the risks that would entail. How many people in Toyota and in Japan would want to see her fail? Too many. It was too risky, and he did her no favor by promoting her. If he really cared about the power of women, he should have taken his time and supported *many* Japanese women as they climbed the ranks of Toyota just like men, and then promoted them to high positions when they got there, because then they would have the knowledge to truly wield power inside and outside the organization. And they in turn may have been able to properly support non-Japanese female executives… So Julie now faces the rest of her life recovering from Akio’s hastiness and stupid mistake. I hope she has the legal ability and the personal grit to tell the truth of what happened before, during, and after this ordeal.

      • Yosemite_Steve

        It will take decades of change before there are enough women in positions of corporate and political authority to prevent this sort of thing from happening. This was not some intra-Toyota scrum that brought Julie down, it was the justice department with a prime excuse to do so! Try making the case in Japanese court that she was arrested and prosecuted just because she was a woman – no standing exists to do so. The prosecutors flexed their muscles by raiding Toyota HQ just for fun and to put Akio in his place. The law is on their side even if it is selective prosecution. Try proving that – they aren’t going to let you discover any evidence even if there is plenty of it. Even if this was extremely selective hard treatment, they can always claim they were doing it to make a high profile example to deter law breaking. As we have seen, there seem to be plenty of ‘law and order’ foreigners who only care that she broke the law and smuggled drugs. Bad, bad, bad and there’s nothing else of interest to this story according even to many gaijin corporate employees..

        Julie might be a very nice person who is actually in a lot of physical pain or is using because of addiction or for stress, but man was she ever clueless. Was she that unaware of the politics of her situation? Or was she just too stressed and/or addicted to care about the risk she took? We probably will never know unless she has incredible nerve to publish her story. But as others have said, if she was stressed badly enough to reach overseas for the medicine cabinet she is way better off outa there and has a hella interesting story to tell if she were to open her mouth about it! That would be the only way to get any possible good from this incident, imo.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        here’s another angle on the decision not to prosecute Julie…although I agree that the whole affair was basically political, especially the police leaks, criminal convictions do require proof beyond a reasonable doubt–both of the criminal intent and of the criminal act. That is how I understand it. So in this case, and I am guessing based on limited information, if the prosecutors did not find Julie’s fingerprints on or in the package, and no email in which she instructed her father to hide the pills inside the package, then he was the person who may have had the criminal intent, not her. But her dad is not under the prosecutors’ jurisdiction, is he? He is not responsible for obeying Japanese law. So they can’t go after him. At the same time, her father’s actions cast doubt on Julie’s own criminal intent. The prosecutors never indict unless they are sure they can convict. So they are letting her go based on the weakness of their case.

        This brings to mind what the US govt officials said when they indicted Toyota for wire fraud. — “sometimes there is just not enough evidence to prosecute the executives.” When the executives are in another country, the prosecutors can more easily fail to collect the needed evidence, either because they don’t want to, because the crime is not obvious enough or big enough, or because the suspect is too clever.

  • At Times Mistaken

    I thought I saw a comment here by some WWII era British soldier. Did it get axed for some reason?