Lack of Roadside Trees Noted in Front of Used-car Dealer Bigmotor stores in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bare sidewalk is seen in front of the Bigmotor outlet in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, on Thursday.

Dead or missing roadside trees and greenery in front of outlets operated by used-car dealership Bigmotor Co. across the nation have prompted some municipalities to launch investigations into possible causes.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has instructed its regional branches to check the condition of trees planted in front of Bigmotor outlets along national roads.

Shrubbery stretching around 7 meters along the sidewalk in front of Bigmotor’s Tokorozawa store in Saitama Prefecture has disappeared, leaving almost bare soil. The Saitama prefectural government, which manages the road, said it had requested information from the store Wednesday, but received no clear answers. The local government is now considering a soil survey.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A tree-free sidewalk is seen in front of the Bigmotor store in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, on Thursday.

In Ota, Gunma Prefecture, 17 shop-front trident maples were found to be blighted last August. A subsequent prefectural investigation detected the presence of the herbicide glyphosate. The local government filed a damage report with the prefectural police in November.

In Nagoya, where dying trees were identified in front of three Bigmotor stores, the city government on Thursday interviewed shop staff, all of whom denied spraying herbicides.

Abnormalities in roadside trees near Bigmotor stores were also detected at several locations in Osaka, Fukuoka and other prefectures; soil surveys are being conducted to determine the cause.

Speaking Thursday at a regular press conference in Hyogo Prefecture, where anomalies were found outside five Bigmotor stores, Gov. Motohiko Saito said, “We intend to thoroughly investigate the cause and file a damage report if herbicides and other chemicals were used.”

Meanwhile, the company’s new president, Shinji Izumi, said at a Tuesday press conference: “We sprayed herbicides during an ‘environmental maintenance inspection’ to remove weeds and trash within a distance of 10 meters to the front of back of our stores. This may have affected roadside trees.”

Izumi said this has happened “about a decade ago.” The company is set to investigate the matter further.