In 1910, Japan was rising as a world power involved in global trade. As an act of friendship, Japan sent 2000 Cherry Trees to Washington, DC in January 1910 to be planted in spring. The project was high profile, part of a beautification effort undertaken by Helen Taft, the First Lady. The trees were to be inspected by the USDA entomologists to ensure that no insect pests, new to the US would arrive as part of the effort. The USDA entomologists, who had been supporting national inspection and quarantine of imported plants, found the trees to be severely infested with insects and nematodes and recommended burning the entire shipment and packaging before spring.
The recommendation caused some high profile embarrassment as the trees were burned under orders from President Taft. The Japanese, interested in potential markets for their ornamentals, accepted the destruction and began steps to send inspected, certified pest free flowering cherry trees to the US. That shipment and the planting of the trees in 1912 were successful. The importance of plant inspection for invasive species was understood at the highest levels of the US government. The value of inspection was not only finding pests that had been exported to the US, but in providing incentive for foreign businesses to practice their own inspections and due diligence to provide pest free plants.