Toyota PR Chief Resigns While in Custody in Japan

Julie Hamp was the company's first female executive.

Toyota’s first female executive, Chief Communications Officer Julie Hamp, officially resigned today from Tokyo, where she is currently in custody awaiting the judgment of a Japanese court.

The Japanese auto company promoted Hamp in March as part of an effort to show a more diverse face to its investors and the world at large, but she was arrested last month in the midst of her transition to the company’s headquarters in Tokyo after she received a self-mailed package containing the prescription painkiller Oxycodone, a controlled substance that requires prior government approval in Japan.

President Akio Toyoda held a press conference to defend Hamp two weeks ago in which he assured onlookers that “…we will learn that she had no intent to violate the law.”

He also offered this very odd statement, which seemed to contradict the company’s new positioning:

“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.”

Today, however, Toyota said that it had accepted Hamp’s resignation “considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders,” which makes it sound like the decision was not strictly hers to make.

Senior Managing Officer Shigeru Hayakawa will assume her role as the company seeks a permanent replacement; Japanese courts have yet to decide whether to charge her with “smuggling” but, under current law, must make that announcement within the next week.