Japan toughens registration law for rare animals and pets with five-year limit


The Japan Times

Date Published
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If you have a rare animal as a pet in Japan, you should know this: You will be required to renew its registration every five years.

Under the revised law on conservation of endangered wild animals and plants set to take effect Friday, registration documents for rare animals and plants will be given expiration dates as a step to prevent illicit transfers.

The government-issued documents are required when transferring or dealing in animals and plants legally imported under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

When the animals or plants die, their registration documents have to be returned.

Since the requirements took effect in 1993, about 262,000 registration documents have been issued but only 8,000 or so returned.

With no expiration dates set under the current system, some of the registration documents have been recycled for use with illegally acquired animals after the original animals died.

Under the revised law, registration documents will expire in five years and owners will be required to renew them.

Among popular pets requiring registration are the arowana, a freshwater fish, the tortoise and the slow loris, a small monkey.

The revision also introduces tougher regulations on businesses handling ivory, often the target of poaching.

Normally, ivory dealers have only to notify the government of their businesses.

But the revision will require them to register with the government. 
This change will allow the government to cancel registrations when dealers handle poached ivory or commit other violations.

If violations from the past are discovered, the government will also be able to reject their applications for registrations. The current law allows dealers who have committed violations to continue operating if they pay a fine.

The Environment Ministry is calling anew for individuals holding unprocessed elephant tusks to register their holdings with the government. Registrations are not required for processed ivory, such as personal seals and accessories.

An estimate shows that some 14,000 complete tusks exist in Japan.

If owners sell or transfer tusks without registration, they can face a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to ¥5 million.