Kennedy aided Hamp’s release from jail, U.S. official says


Former Toyota Motor Corp. executive Julie Hamp left a Tokyo jail 20 days after police arrested her for violating Japan’s drug laws. U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy helped secure the release, said an official.

Prosecutors decided not to indict Hamp, 55, who had been held by Tokyo police since June 18 on suspicion she imported the pain medication oxycodone, because the pills were meant for her physical condition and not for drug abuse.

She left the jail in Tokyo’s Harajuku district Wednesday afternoon in a silver Toyota Alphard. Kennedy spoke with Japanese authorities about the case against Hamp before her release, according to the U.S. official.

The legal woes for Hamp, who lasted just three months as Toyota’s first female executive, thrust Toyota into the position of defending efforts to boost diversity in its management ranks dominated by Japanese men. The automaker accepted Hamp’s resignation as communications chief less than two weeks after President Akio Toyoda hosted a press conference to vouch for her character and express confidence she hadn’t intentionally broken the law.

The U.S. official, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter, said Kennedy’s role was one that American ambassadors are often called on to play on behalf of Americans imprisoned or accused of crimes in foreign nations.

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington that while he was sure Kennedy was involved “at some level” as U.S. ambassador, he couldn’t comment further.

In Hamp’s case, the unnamed U.S. official said, the embassy’s inquiries to Japanese officials and Kennedy’s personal involvement were in part the result of fears that the publicity the case generated was creating an unfair impression that the Toyota executive was guilty without any judicial proceedings.

The official also said ambassadors and other U.S. diplomats and legal attaches routinely discuss less prominent cases with their counterparts in foreign countries.

In those cases, as in this one, the official said, American representatives question foreign legal officials about the basis for arrests of U.S. citizens and the nature of the evidence against them, and do not seek any special dispensations from local laws, even when those differ from comparable U.S. law.

Toyota issued a statement after her release, apologizing for “any confusion or concern” the arrest may have caused. The automaker appointed Shigeru Hayakawa, whom Hamp was reporting to before her resignation, to replace her as chief communications officer effective Monday. Hayakawa, 61, joined the company in 1977.

  • Tim Johnston

    Now, if Caroline Kennedy can begin to help Americans who have their children Abducted and Alienated in Japan??

    She can help someone who breaks the law with illegal drugs in Japan. But all the innocent Americans who have been violated by the Hague convention Treaty which has meant nothing thus far!

    Caroline. I hope you make this your next issue to address Children’s and Parents rights and try to leave a legacy of substance, Sure you father would have done more on this issue than you have done thus far!

    Parents have rights to see their children who have been abducted to Japan.

  • Steve Jackman

    The American embassy certainly needs to take a more active stance against the unjust treatment often received by Americans in the Japanese judicial system. Regular Americans living in Japan are often denied justice and due process of law by the Japanese judicial system in both civil and criminal cases, since the system is extremely xenophobic and racist towards Americans.

    • Clickonthewhatnow

      How can they be racist towards Americans when American isn’t a race? Think, then type.

      • Steve Jackman

        My statement is absolutely correct. America is a multiracial society and is made up of many races including caucasians, hispanics, blacks, and non-Japanese Asians, etc. The Japanese are xenophobic and racist towards all non-Japanese, so my statement is valid.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Your statement is incorrect because American is not a race. People can be racist against races, not nationalities. Americans also include Japanese Asians, which debunks your whole point.

  • Liars N. Fools

    “Kennedy’s personal involvement were in part the result of fears that the publicity the case generated was creating an unfair impression that the Toyota executive was guilty without any judicial proceedings.”

    Now Kennedy’s personal involvement can also be viewed as interfering with an investigation that seemed to have a prima facie cause for prosecution. Now her involvement can also be seen as intervention when already privileged people are involved.

    Certainly the ambassador’s involvement deserves some scrutiny.

  • Guest

    Let’s apply the comparable US drug smuggling law to this case:

    To show importation of [oxycodone], the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) played a role in bringing [oxycodone] into [Japan] from outside of [Japan], (2) knew that [oxycodone] was a controlled substance and (3) knew that [oxycodone] would enter [Japan].

    Do you think she would have been found guilty if the US law was subbed for the Japanese law?