13 at Bigmotor Referred to Prosecutors over Roadside Trees

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
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TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A former Bigmotor Co. vice president and 12 others were referred to prosecutors Monday over roadside trees killed or cut down near Tokyo outlets of the used car dealer.

Papers on the 13 people, including former vice president Koichi Kaneshige, 35, were sent to the prosecution for alleged property destruction, investigative sources said.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department believes that Kaneshige may have indirectly influenced decisions to cut down or kill with herbicides roadside trees by strengthening the company’s checks on the cleanliness of outlets or through personnel evaluations, although he gave no direct instructions.

The 12 others include a former 41-year-old manager and workers of a Bigmotor outlet in the western Tokyo city of Tama. They are suspected of cutting down trees in front of the store with a grass cutter in July last year.

Others include former managers and workers at Bigmotor outlets in Tokyo’s Setagaya and Nerima wards and in the western Tokyo city of Tachikawa who allegedly killed roadside trees by spraying herbicides between February 2021 and early July 2023.

Kaneshige led environmental inspections by the company. He is believed to have added the pruning of roadside trees to inspection items, rating the area just outside a store higher after the roadside trees near the outlet were cut down, the sources said.

Bigmotor officials told Jiji Press in September last year that the company cut down trees and sprayed herbicides as part of its cleaning activities, admitting that excessive instructions led to damage to public property.

The MPD also sent prosecutors papers over dead roadside trees near five outlets, including another store in Setagaya, without identifying suspects.

The Tokyo police raided Bigmotor’s headquarters and nine outlets in September last year over the dead trees and accepted a damage report from the Tokyo metropolitan government the same month.

According to the National Police Agency, police departments of 20 prefectures including Tokyo are conducting investigations after receiving over 50 damage reports over roadside trees. In January this year, the Kanagawa prefectural police arrested a Bigmotor employee on suspicion of property destruction.