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Toyota's American PR chief arrested for suspected drug violation

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Maki Shiraki

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If she did not think it was illegal, why did she go to the trouble of posting it to herself instead of just putting it in her hand luggage?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

It is extremely strong and if she's taking 57 of these, and isn't recently post op after major surgery, she has an abuse problem.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I imagine she'll have approached it totally from her perspective, 'It's only a painkiller for god's sake, I'll just mail it to myself, stupid Japanese not letting me take it in!'


7 ( +8 / -1 )

How embarrassing and a waste of precious time when you on an important business trip. This is what happens when a person doesn't take the time to educate themself on the local laws of the country you will be visiting. When sending a drug through the mail you need to make sure your prescription medication is not considered an illegal narcotic. In the end ignorance of the law is no excuse and hope she doesn't end up in a difficult and or expensive legal situation.

6 ( +7 / -2 )

Oh, come on folks, I mean, we are talking about a (strong) painkiller, not some kind of "dope"!

Oxycodone is an extremely powerful and addictive opiate (a relative of heroin). There is a major problem going on in North America right now with oxycodone. Many pharmacies have stopped stocking it, because it's a target for break-ins. It's not just a strong pain killer, and it's worse than most types of 'dope'. Stupid of her to mail it to Japan. There is no way that she didn't realize there may be some problems with bringing it into Japan. It's a seriously controlled substance in the US right now.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

oxycodone is stronger than heroin. it's not just any dope. and she being american, she definitely knew that it would be dangerous to possess such a strong drug.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@TexPomeroy: The strongest painkiller they'll give you in Japan is Loxinin. It's about as strong Tylenol. You can get codeine, but you must be suffering from terminal cancer to get it. Japan is unbelievably strict with painkillers. "Compound fracture? Here's some ibuprofen."

4 ( +13 / -9 )


Japan is stricter than many countries and they dispense painkillers and other medications completely differently than the US. That being said Loxonin is most certainly not the most powerful painkiller available here. Actually loxonin is now over the counter and does not require even a prescription. When I injured my knee and later my foot I was prescribed something more powerful after the regular meds didn't work.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Oxycodone is not available in Japan. Another opioid type is often prescribed here called Tramcet. I could not get any medication like Oxycodone for my back pain and was given Tramcet. Other pain relieving medication such as Lyrica is ok. As someone commented, she should have consulted with authority. We often wonder why Japan is so strict. I think she will get off with a warning.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Carrying it in her bag by accident, understandable, mailing it to herself seems like she was trying to get around the law. Just like a few months ago when that other American was arrested for trying to get stuff mailed to her,in that case, she put the drugs in another container.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The other thing that's not really discussed:

You KNOW this will set back the hiring of gaijin and women for the next 10 years.

Crusty old Japanese execs: "Man, that ONE time we hired a gaijin woman for management she got us in the news for trying to smuggle drugs to herself. This is why we can't employ those damn foreigners."

4 ( +4 / -1 )

Busted for illegal pain medications? Damn, that hurts!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Let see the power of Toyota at work here. The common pleb would spend 21 days minimum in detention and potentially finally deported.

I doubt it. Likely she will simply be deported (soon) back to America with a lifetime ban against returning to Japan. A couple of years ago the recently arrived headmaster of the Sacred Heart School was arrested after she had her husband mail marijuana to her, she was deported immediatley, with only the clothes on her back. "Sir" Paul McCartney was arrested years ago at Narita when he tried to bring in pot in his suitcase. He was also summarily deported with a lifetime ban, which as we know was eventually relaxed.

Oxies are very dangerous and very addictive, and are seldom prescribed anymore. The few people who can get them from a doctor nowadays are Hollywood-types. If she had obtained the pills with a prescription, she simply could have brought them with her in her bags. Mailing them to herself was a two-fold crime. She will have to answer to American authorities when she returns, using the US mail in the commission of a crime is a felony, and mailing restricted prescription drugs without authorization and proper declaration is a crime.

I wonder who Toyota will choose to replace her?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My guess she has an addiction problem . Watch follow ups...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Despite the assertations of the self-proclaimed experts above, oxycodon is available in Japan, with a prescription:


3 ( +4 / -1 )

Hmmm. Wondering who is going to manage the PR for Toyota on this?!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Let see the power of Toyota at work here. The common pleb would spend 21 days minimum in detention and potentially finally deported.

My guess is that nothing is going to happen. Invoke a honest mistake and released. In worst case, she'll get fired for having Toyota in the news with a drug related offense.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What do they say "ignorance is no defence"?

If the charges can be proved in a court of law, then this executive needs to be punished to the full extent of the law. Furthermore, as rightly pointed out by somebody above, Loxinin is not the strongest painkiller handed out in Japan. If you believe that it is, perhaps you should be tested for hallucinogens. That being said, however, based on 20+ years professional experience in Japan, I reckon there is a tendency to under dose painkillers in Japan. A number of friends in the medical profession here have commented on the fact that at university, painkillers were somewhat demonized (a fact supported by my eldest son who is training to be a doctor). Moreover, Oxycodone is a narcotic, I believe it is in the same family as the opiates. Furthermore, as others have already pointed out, there is a serious abuse problem with it in North America. Indeed, I remember reading somewhere that a rather high percentage of doctor shopping cases involve Oxycodone and similar medications.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What a fool. If she had just carried them into Japan herself it's highly unlikely that she would have been searched, and even if she was, it's highly likely that an explanation of "I have a prescription and didn't know it's illegal" would have been accepted at face value. Seriously, of all the millions of people who pass through Narita every year, how many get arrested for this?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The few people who can get them from a doctor nowadays are Hollywood-types

And my mum. She got them last year post-op after falling and breaking her leg.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This synthetic opiate is often used as a recreational drug (similar effects and addictiveness as heroin) in the US, so she has mailed herself a class A narcotic drug to Japan, obviously knowing she could well get caught with it when going through Japanese customs. That action would appear to be indicative of not having a prescription and therefore there is the possibility that it was being used as a recreational drug. No wonder she was arrested.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It really depends a friend of mine needs a drug to survive that is illegal here.

She got an exception and her Canadian Doctor sends it direct to her Japanese Doctor who dispenses it to her.

Sending meds, etc across any border without checking regulations is a good and quick way to get noticed by the police, as some drugs are used to make more illegal drugs.

Doubt that Toyota can help her much as Toyota should have had her informed beforehand.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If she did not think it was illegal, why did she go to the trouble of posting it to herself instead of just putting it in her hand luggage?

Exactly. Hard to claim ignorance of the law when you do that.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

She made a mistake. There's no excuse for that. Period. I assume she got the pain medication legally from her doctor for a good reason, e.g. surgery. It worked very well for me, after surgery, but even then, I was given just 5 or so days worth of it. About 10 years ago, after major surgery, I remember that they prescribed about 7 days or so of it. So, Americans are definitely trying to reduce its' use. Everything in moderation still seems to be a valid statement here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


people will try "importing" hemp;

Provided there is no THC in the product, then hemp products can be imported by people directly into Japan. CBD oil (the second most common compound behind THC in cannabis and used for pain relief) is available from Amazon.co.jp (expensive, but available). And, can be sent to you in Japan as Japan is one of the 40 countries that allows hemp products. I've had Charlotte's web and other high CBD oil compounds sent to me by mail order.

As for pain killers, over the counter medications here have codeine (cough medicines, and the little yellow pill things that they sell 180 in a bottle and have 3 mg per pill). But nothing as strong as Oxycodone of course.

Getting pain medication from a doctor is an issue though. However, as others have said, in her position she would have had access to medical resources if she had looked into it more. And it is the posting items to herself that is a big red flag for customs. Similar to other cases where people try to disguise it in tylenol bottles and things.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Someone said here why did she mail it to the airport? Well she didn't she mailed it to herself either at her hotel or at her office but if was found at customs in Narita. As for why she didn't carry it? I'm guessing coz you can only carry a very small amount of prescription drugs with you with the papers when you travel. I'm prob sure she had some with her with a prescription. We need more info, did she mail just a small box with oxycodone? Yes that would be assuming she was trying to bypass a law. But was it a box of person household goods? I sent myself tons of boxes in the past when I visited the USA. Mailed foods and toiletries, makeup and cheap American over the counter meds and teaching stuff. This could be a mistake on her part but not trying to break the law. Yes, she should have educated herself on the drug. Fwiw I took it after surgery a few years back and it wasn't doing anything special for me! (Military hospitals still dispense it) it looked attractive on the TV series "Dr House" I expected a miracle drug! It was not in my case! I threw most of it out! It didn't even get rid of my migraines after my surgery when I couldn't take my usual meds

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It seems that she should have had oxycodone prescribed in Japan, not importing it personally.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Perhaps she was a poor choice as a PR VIP. Should have hired the better qualified person.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just as an aside, this case yet again proves that it is pretty hard to beat a trained canine nose. Spot the Dog: 1 vs. Spot the Dummy: 0

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Certain types of hemp are legal in Japan and there are licensed growers, but the plant cannot grow over a certain height to precent buds or blooming, strictly controlled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gotta chek carefully, regardless of whether it may legal elsewhere or not. That said, it's not like she was dealing coke.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Oxycodone... you can look it up in wikipedia... but it is pretty much a hell of a narcotic and is allegedly stronger than "coke"

By the way....the legal status for Oxycodone in the world is pretty solid as to be considered as a Narcotic, following is an extract from wikipedia on that matter.

"Oxycodone is subject to international conventions on narcotic drugs. In addition, oxycodone is subject to national laws that differ by country...." and " ....Global restrictions on Schedule I drugs include "limit[ing] exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of" these drugs... "

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If she hand carried into Japan. ok mistake, oops! Mailing........not so sure she didn't know....

I have often had extra strength Tylenol mailed to me from where I lived decades ago, almost always the packages are opened & searched by Customs, the reason is because whats inside is written on a Customs declaration on the outside of the package, & most foreign mail into Japan, certainly packages get x-rayed, so they can find the stuff long before calling in the dogs.

Reckless, international mail lands at AIRPORTS & that's WHERE Customs is, & that's where things are checked, also can be checked at postal facilities in Tokyo as well, should be obvious.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yes, descendent, poster Jack-whoever, above, is incorrect.

RecklessJun wrote:

who the hell sends something, anything, to themselves at a foreign airport?

This could mean that the package, designated for her home or office, arrived at port of entry, being the airport and was flagged by officials before being passed into the JP stream for delivery.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I had a case of Calcific tendonitis, which is very painful. The pain is constant, 24 hours a day. I had it on a three day weekend, so I couldn't see a proper specialist until the following Tuesday. Well until then, they gave me loxinin. I asked for something stronger, but was told, by the doctor, that stuff like codeine is only given to terminal cancer patients in great pain. I've talked to other people here that have had the same condition and all agree that the pain is excruciating. No, I'm not hallucinating, I'm just telling you what the doctor told me. It appears, from several comments, that that information was wrong. I'm sorry about that. No harm intended.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@davidwagnerasia: A PR nightmare but a chance also for Toyota to shine depending on how it handles things...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am certain that she is lying. If she is going to be an executive in Japan, she should have and must have had a basic knowledge of the Japanese culture. If she did not, Toyota should not have selected her for the position.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For someone who travels on a regular basis, and the fact that she hid the pills amongst other items and had it sent through the mail, makes you wonder. If she's found guilty, its going to be the end of her carrier in Japan. As many post have stated, there's no excuse! The laws apply to everyone, including her!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Something strange on her stories and also Toyota excuse. Necklace and medicine in same package. People so not pack jewels and pills to safe guard jewels from being damaged but maybe she has new kind of necklace?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If she made it into powder it could be more luck otherwise bottle of sake could help too...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Am i the only one here thinking this might be an easy way for the Amakudari board members to get rid of a foreign female senior exec?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Because of the enduring myth that Japanese paharaceuticals are less effective for foreigners and vice versa. i hear this so often from my Japanese friends and colleagues.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Jail time 10years

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Business as usual "Only specially designated parties were allowed to import the drug" Yes cos its such a HUGE business and everyone must get a slice of the cake.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

its more a problem with ridiculous drug policy... as any normal country , a month worth supply should be allowed to anyone

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

Well - it is a prescriptions drug! Codeine in it too, right? Why didn't a high-flying executive like her just ask a doctor at the Toyota Clinic here for a prescription; surely she can afford it, even if it is a tad more higher-priced here? Next thing we'll know, this excuse of not knowing the local laws, "It's not illegal back home in Oregon" and such will mean people will try "importing" hemp; Toyota is in for a surprise by trying to defend her foolish actions...

-8 ( +6 / -15 )

long dominated by Japanese men

Japanese company dominated by Japanese men is nothing wrong. Which American company is dominated by Japanese men? I think zero.

-11 ( +9 / -20 )

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