Treaty members urge Japan to close loophole to ivory trade


Tsuyoshi Kawamura, The Asahi Shimbun

Date Published

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Japan has come under more pressure to shut down its ivory market once and for all to combat elephant poaching. 

A draft resolution under the Washington Convention targets Japan and European Union members, among others. It labeled Japan’s ivory market as “one of the largest in the world” and a loophole for illegal exports to China, widely considered the world’s largest ivory market. 

The resolution urges all signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Convention, to immediately shut down domestic ivory markets. 

“All domestic ivory markets, legal or illegal, contribute to poaching,” states the resolution, submitted by nine countries, including Kenya and Nigeria. 

The draft was released by the CITES secretariat on Feb. 4 ahead of a meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the convention, to be held in Sri Lanka in May. 

Under the CITES, international trade in elephant tusks and other ivory products has been prohibited, in principle, since 1990. 

With regard to domestic ivory sales, a resolution urging countries to close markets that contribute to elephant poaching, as well as illegal ivory trading, was approved at the 2016 CITES conference. 

Japan maintains that its domestic market is appropriately managed and does not encourage poaching or other illegal activities.