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Toyota says U.S. executive arrested in Japan has resigned

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Julie Hamp, Toyota Motor Corp.'s new head of public relations, speaks during a press conference in Toyota, central Japan, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Hamp was arrested Thursday, June 18, on suspicion of importing an illegal pain medicine into Japan, Tokyo police said. Hamp, an American, was appointed in April as Toyota's first female top executive. She had been moving her things to Japan from California, where she had been head of communications for Toyota's U.S. operations. (Kyodo News via AP) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY

TOKYO >> Julie Hamp, Toyota’s most senior female executive, has resigned following her arrest in Japan on suspicion of drug law violations, the automaker said Wednesday.

Hamp tendered her resignation through her attorneys on Tuesday, and Toyota Motor Corp. accepted it because of “the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders,” the company said.

Hamp, a 55-year-old American who was Toyota’s newly appointed head of public relations, was arrested on June 18 on suspicion of importing oxycodone, a narcotic pain killer, into Japan. The drug is tightly controlled in the country.

Toyota declined to disclose other details, noting the investigation was ongoing.

Hamp, who previously worked for Toyota’s U.S. operations, remains in custody and has not been available for comment. Police have said she denied she tried to bring in an illegal drug.

She has not been formally charged. Japanese authorities can detain suspects without charge for up to 23 days. It is unclear when she might be released.

Police raided Toyota’s headquarters in Toyota City in central Japan and its offices in Tokyo and Nagoya five days after her arrest.

Her appointment in April had been highlighted by Toyota as a step toward promoting diversity.

Toyota reiterated Wednesday that it remains committed to diversity. But it acknowledged in a statement that it still needs to become “a truly global company,” noting that Hamp’s appointment had been a “big step” for the company.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has said the company should have helped Hamp more in settling into her job in Japan. He also has said he believes Hamp did not intend to break the law.

Her arrest came as she was moving her things from the U.S., and police came to her Tokyo hotel after finding the drug in a package that was mailed to her. Japanese media said the drugs were hidden in a package containing jewelry.

Although Japanese Toyota officials have been posted abroad, Hamp was the first senior foreign Toyota executive to be fully stationed in Japan.

Foreigners have sometimes been detained in Japan for mailing or bringing in medicines they used at home. Such drugs may be banned in Japan or require special approval.

Before joining Toyota in 2012, Hamp worked for PepsiCo Inc. and General Motors Co.

She oversaw marketing and communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the U.S. before her latest promotion.

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