Tokyo Ivory: Catering to International Orders

Mar 27, 2021 | Reports

By WildAid and the Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund.

Executive Summary
Illegal exports of ivory are continuing unabated. Though Japan,
where the most visible and largest legal ivory market exists today, has
been claiming that its market is not contributing to illegal trade, more
and more ivory shipments from Japan have been seized in other
countries: mainly China. Would authorized legal sales of ivory items
facilitate illegal export of it? In order to examine this theory, WildAid
and JTEF conducted an undercover investigation into two companies
managed by Chinese nationals. Both companies were mainly targeting
Chinese customers. The first one revealed that the ivory bought by
customers at this shop had been seized by Chinese Customs, and that
“a dozen of them were jailed.” The second business admitted to
regularly producing items for Chinese customers from tens of
thousands of cut ivory pieces stocked in its workshop and even
manufacturing specific items that cater to orders from customers in
mainland China. These businesses knowingly operate with the
assumption that the purchased ivory items will eventually be
exported. However, they are cleverly evading direct involvement in
illegal export, and comply with the laws and regulations on domestic
ivory trade. In order to end Japan’ s involvement in illegal ivory
exports, the only way forward is to close its legal ivory market as a
matter of urgency, thus complying with the CITES resolution.
Particularly, in Tokyo–Japan’ s center for ivory sales and illegal
export–ivory trade should be promptly banned without waiting for
national-level responses.

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