[Johannesburg = KYODO] In order to prevent the poaching of African elephants, a resolution calling on all nations to close domestic markets of ivory was adopted by consensus at during the plenary session of the CITES CoP in Johannesburg.
? Japan “is not subject” to the closures.
It is unusual for CITES, a convention to regulate international trade, to determine the measures for domestic markets. Although resolution is not binding, countries are required to report on the implementation status, and Japan is likely to be the subject of international criticism by allowing continued domestic ivory trade.
The draft resolution proposed by the United States, among others. In a private working group, South Africa and others allied with Japan were reluctant to uniformly ban the domestic trade, so language was added to limit the subject of the closures. It was proposed to close “domestic markets that contribute to poaching or illegal trade.”
After adoption, Junya Nakano of the Wild Fauna and Flora Trade Examination Office of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, who attended the CoP as a representative of Japan stated that “The resolution text does not apply the closure of the Japanese domestic market.” In short, Japan recognized that it was excluded from the resolution.
African elephants are in danger of extinction due to poaching for their ivory, and CITES has already banned the international trade in ivory. But in Japan, there is a stock of ivory imported before the ban was in place and from other sources, and because it is required to report ivory trade to the government, it is argued that “illegal ivory is eliminated”.
On the other hand, environmental groups are protesting the “many deficiencies in Japan’s ivory registration system, and urge that the market be shut down.” According to the investigation report of a non-governmental organization, the scale of the market in Japan in 2014 was estimated at 2 billion yen. Illegal trade of ivory is also said to have become a source of funding for criminal and terrorist organizations, further fueling the global momentum for closing domestic ivory markets in order to cut off the demand. Last September, the United States and China expressed their intention to shut down their domestic markets. At the IUCN WCC in September this year, a motion was passed recommending the closure of domestic ivory markets.
? Japan also closed target.
According to Masayuki Sakamoto, the Director of the NPO “Japan Tiger and Elephant Conservation Fund:
The scale of the Japanese ivory market is large, and in the current situation in which China has moved toward a policy banning domestic trade in ivory, there is a high likelihood that Japan will once again become the world’s top ivory consuming country. Moreover, there is fear that the current ivory registration system suffers from the problem of allowing illegal ivory to be mixed in and flow into the legal market. This draft resolution calls for the closure of domestic markets that “contribute to poaching and illegal trade” and while language was provided to make exceptions to markets subject to closure, it is clear that Japan is being asked to close its market. The Japanese government claimed that “it is exempt”, but if the domestic trade is to continue, Japan will be subject to severe criticism from the global community.