Toyota Plays Defense After PR Chief Arrested in Japan

Watch President Akido Toyoda's statement to the press.

In case you missed it, Toyota Managing Officer Julie Hampwho made headlines for becoming the highest-ranking woman within the organization when it promoted her in March–was arrested this week in Japan on suspicion of bringing a controlled substance into the country.

The substance in question was Oxycodone, a powerful prescription painkiller, and Japanese officials allege that she broke the law by effectively “smuggling” the pills in a package sent to her address in Japan.

President Akio Toyoda made statements defending Hamp at a press conference this morning. Here’s the video with English translation:

Toyoda effectively apologized for confusion regarding the situation, calling his employees “my children” and assuring reporters that “I believe we will learn that she had no intent to violate the law.”

Another odd quote from Mr. Toyoda:

“It’s the responsibility of a parent to protect his children and, if a child causes problems, it’s also a parent’s responsibility to apologize.”

Hamp, who was SVP/CCO at Pepsi before joining Toyota, claims that she “wasn’t aware the painkillers were illegal in Japan.”

The narrative grows more complex here, because she apparently mailed 57 pills to herself in a package labeled “necklaces.” Also unclear at the moment: whether Hamp has a prescription for the medication in the United States.

Unfortunately–because this case involves alleged violations of international law–it will almost certainly not be resolved soon.

Look for updates to come.