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Exec returns to Toyota as an adviser after his 2015 arrest in Japan

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TOKYO — A U.S. executive who resigned from Toyota after being arrested in Japan in 2015 on suspicion of drug offenses has returned to the Japanese automaker, the company said Thursday.

Julie Hamp was hired by the North American operations of Toyota Motor Corp. to support its Managing Director, Akio Toyoda, and advise the company on global management, sustainability, governance and global media relations.

She was arrested on suspicion of importing the prescription painkiller oxycodone, which is tightly controlled in Japan, after arriving in the country to head Toyota’s public relations in 2015.

Toyota said her return was not a problem because she was never sued.

“Toyota believes the 2015 incident will not hamper its career,” he said in response to a question from The Associated Press.

In 2015, prosecutors said Hamp arranged with her father to have 57 oxycodone pills flown from the United States to a hotel in Tokyo. They decided not to press charges.

Toyota officials repeatedly apologized for the arrest, but Toyoda commented that he wished he could have done more to help Hamp. He also publicly defended her as an important member of the Toyota team.

Hamp’s was the first high-profile female promotion at Japan’s largest automaker. She joined the company in 2012, overseeing marketing and communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the United States. She previously worked for PepsiCo Inc. and General Motors Co.

In his final assignment at Toyota, Hamp will also work on the English version of Toyota’s own news outlet, Toyota Times, according to the maker of the Prius and luxury Lexus hybrid models.

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

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