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Report shows Japan loopholes aid illicit trade in ivory

21 Comments
By ELAINE KURTENBACH

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But the EIA contends that widespread use of fake documents has enabled traders to “legalize” more than 1,000 tusks a year since 2011.

And how is this a loophole?

Apart from ivory purchased in two special auctions by African countries in 1999 and 2008, all legal ivory in Japan had to be from domestic stockpiles or imported before the 1989 CITES treaty. But individually owned tusks face no registration requirement, and the tusks are not marketed in any way to ensure that the documents are valid for the items being registered.

Yes, and if memory serves me right these dealers have stocks that are always full. The Japanese government is implicitly allowing this to continue by not keeping tabs on the stock that was previously acquired.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

70% of voters in the US state of Washington recently passed an initiative that

outlawed selling, offering to sell, purchasing, trading, bartering for or distributing any covered animal species or product, to include elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark and ray.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) vehemently opposed the initiative claiming it would take away their constitutionally guaranteed right to buy ivory handled firearms.

Thank you Washington voters who voted for this initiative.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japan is an environmental vandal.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

loopholes a.k.a. brown envelopes

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Don't impose on their ancient traditions of selling ivory!

Rakuten got in trouble for this earlier this year or late last year, and someone told me just yesterday (the issue came up when they showed me a pair of ivory chopsticks they keep for special occasions) you can still find it online here and there if you look carefully. They said no one here really buys it much anymore, except for status, but there are indeed people selling their old netsuke, chopsticks, seals, and other goods made of ivory if in a pinch.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Basically the public face policy is to promote elephant conservation and the private face policy is to look the other way.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is so Japanese. They just want to make appear that they are doing something in an international issue because they just want to save face and not be considered as complete jerks from outside. But in reality what they want is to make money and they will do it even if it has to go against what they promised. Loopholes, corruptions, this country is not a state grounded in the rule of law.

Japan is as much responsible as China to the shameful killing of elephants in Africa because it helps to sustain this business. And these two countries are the perfect example of governments with incredibly stupid and greedy people in them who have no sensitivity in devastating a continent far enough so that their population don't care.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

This should be no surprise considering you can buy an ivory hanko at every hanko shop and many places sell ivory figurines. Just another Japanese faux pas. Nothing new to see hear. Move along people!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Perhaps the traders are telling the Japanese authorities the ivory is being taken for research purposes!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'd be interested to know what is actually happening with elephant numbers. Like whales, elephants have been "endangered" for decades, despite ongoing hunting. It turns out there are more than 300,000 minke whales in the Southern Hemisphere... so how about elephants - anyone?

I'm not against a sustainable number of them being taken annually, personally. It'd provide a legal source of income for our dear friends in Africa.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Unfortunately I think perhaps you are displaying the narrow instrumentalism and bogus utility of an economist, fxgai. Economies are not congruent with ecology. What is viable over the short-term focus of the economy (and economists) is not necessarily viable in the longer-term, and much more complex, existence of a climax ecosystem. Making elephants a resource will mean attempts to change the ecosystem to support them and maximise numbers and then it will not support the diversity it previously did. And, for your information, elephant numbers are down greatly to certainly less than a million from several million but that doesn't tell the story of local extinctions or the sheer cruelty involved in their decimation.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Moonraker, elephants already are a resource. I've met people who have eaten elephant with the locals when in Africa.

Alas humans are taking up more and more habitat around the world, but where there are healthy populations of elephants I have no issue.

And if we can kill a cow and eat it, I think we should accept Africans killing an elephant and using it as they see fit, too. It's just a part of life on earth.

This is also a human rights issue. For me, where sustainability is not in question, humans come before cows and elephants and whales. Yes, some people consider only their own individual interests, rather than those of their fellow human beings, but I'm against that, as unpopular as it might be amongst those not concerned with the interests of their fellow man.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Japan loopholes without them Japanese business would collapse

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maximising human utility does not make for a viable Earth. This is what the mainstream economist fails to understand. If it makes short-term economic sense to eradicate then it is ok, even if that eradication is a byproduct of boosting some other species' numbers. The economist's faith is that we will in future find a way to replace the services we lost, if the price becomes high enough (we can presumably replace climax rainforests and resurrect species in short order). The degraded "ecosystems" we create with farming, which you are basically proposing for the elephants, cannot become global without seriously compromising the whole biosphere, a system the complexity of which we have little comprehension. There are complex linkages and feedback loops and services we once got for free, such as, say, pollination, may no longer be so. As some previous civilisations have found, often belatedly, we have to have vast untouched areas as reserves. It is not about lack of care for fellow man, in fact, the devastation wrought by ideologically-driven economists in the past dwarfs almost any care they might have professed.

And, it is a big difference between the occasional taking of an elephant for food, as in your examples, and the farming for ivory on the scale the world might demand. Elephants are social animals and the young learn from the older ones, which also just happen to be the ones with tusks. Right now in Africa there are herds that have lost the memory of water holes and contain delinquent young males because the mothers have been shot.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I wasn't thinking farming, and elephants are big animals, I doubt it'd be practical.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be limits to how many be caught either, there should be.

If the elephants are able to be used to generate additional income beyond what tourists are after, our African colleagues will be vested in not only using them, but also conserving them and protecting them from poachers. And that additional income would serve to fund such conservation and protection efforts.

If they are eating some for food, they might as well make valuable use of the tusks as well. That'd increase legal demand which would bring down black market prices and also thus alleviate the incentives of poachers.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

">Report shows Japan loopholes aid illicit trade in ivory

Shocking, absolutely shocking. Who could possibly imagine Japan, the country that almost single-handedly devoured the world's supply of blue-fin and other varieties of tuna, and is hunting whales as we speak, despite an international outcry, would also be involved in illcit ivory trade? Must be a typo."

This post was removed for being off topic, but the one mentioning the NRA wasn't. LMFAO. Really? Mods, you need to connect the dots once in a while. At its core, this is a story about Japan once again being an environmental terrorist and arrogantlycontributing to the destruction of natural resources around the world. I just highlighted two other examples.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

And if we can kill a cow and eat it, I think we should accept Africans killing an elephant and using it as they see fit, too. It's just a part of life on earth.

Not that old chestnut again... elephants are wild animals, not domesticated animals bred and mutated beyond their original wild form for meat. Our ancestors wiped out the Mammoth... looks like we're wiping out the elephants just so rich people can gloat about having something made from their tusks.

Poachers should be shot.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The best solution is cutting tasks from all African wild Elephants and auctions the tasks. The money come from auction will use in Elephants conservation program. If the Elephants do not have tasks and then no one will kill them for task. Same program should be extending to African Rhinos. If the Rhinos do not have horns and then no one will kill them for their horns.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The best solution is cutting tasks from all African wild Elephants and auctions the tasks.

LOL! Thank god there's no big demand for elephant testicles. And by the way, it's "tusks."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

fxgai: "It turns out there are more than 300,000 minke whales in the Southern Hemisphere... so how about elephants - anyone?" No, no elephants sighted in the Southern Ocean. If there were you could bet Japan would like to do a survey by checking the growth rings on their tusks (which would just happen to end up as hanko). Is it just me or does it seem that world wildlife exists more for many Japanese as cartoon characters and commercial mascots than as living, then bleeding, dying and disappearing lifeforms? My father-in-law bought hand-carved ivory seals for my kids. He just didn't get it when I tried to explain that I didn't want them to even touch them. He just said, 'They are only hanko'. Sometimes I feel Japanese can only follow a source process so far until it hits a cultural/PR dead-end.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There is a very high percentage of ivory imported into Japan that goes into making the traditional name stamp, the hanko. Also Rakuten Ichiba is suppose to be the world's top marketplace for elephant ivory. Therefore the poorly controlled ivory sales in Japan continues to encourage illicit trade in elephant tusks. In other words a lack of rules regulating the registration of raw ivory and the licensing of importers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers has allowed illicit stocks into Japan's domestic market. Thus Japan's flawed inventory control has caused large amounts of illegal ivory to be laundered into the domestic markets. In the end if they don't step up to the plate eventually the population of the elephant is probably going to be completely wiped out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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