Private sector in Japan shows Government the right way forward over ivory sales

The major Japanese retailer Ito-Yokado has stopped selling ivory products in its own stores and is asking tenants in its shopping malls to follow suit – throwing into sharp contrast the Government of Japan’s failure to act on the issue.

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Japan, ivory hankos

Ivory name stamps, called hanko, on sale in Japan

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This year looks set to be a watershed for elephant conservation, with China starting out on 1 January with a domestic ivory trade ban and the UK announcing similar measures  this week.

But Japan’s reluctance to ban ivory leaves it out in the cold and out of step with much of the rest of the world in taking meaningful action to help end the slaughter of elephants in Africa and Asia.

Elephant in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania (c) EIAimage

Elephant in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania (c) EIAimage

Ito-Yokado’s announcement puts it alongside other major retailers which have independently turned their backs on ivory sales, including retail giant Rakuten which eventually stopped selling ivory after our 2014 exposé Blood e-Commerce.

Mary Rice, our Executive Director, said: “Ito-Yokado is doing the right thing and should be wholeheartedly commended for this action.

“Its unilateral decision to turn away from ivory sales and the environmental carnage they entail serves also to highlight the lack of action to date from the Government of Japan.

“The Government seems content to hide behind misplaced confidence that its domestic ivory trade controls are sufficient to prevent illegal ivory from entering the marketplace, yet investigations by our colleagues at EIA US clearly demonstrate that Japan’s tusk registration scheme is deeply flawed and allows poached tusks to be legalised into trade.

“Japan is one of the largest remaining ivory markets in the world and its Government needs to wake up and recognise that by refusing to acknowledge the real-world impact of its trade, it will only continue to drive the industrial-scale slaughter, murder and corruption which characterises ivory poaching and illegal trade.”