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Rakuten slammed over ivory and whale meat products


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Heh, and the CEO of Rakuten few years ago changed the company language to English to become more globally friendly company.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I believe Japan exploits a CITES loophole by buying ivory from African countries that have stockpiles of confiscated or from dead (by natural causes hopefully) elephants. I investigated this years ago after seeing ivory netsuke and carvings at Nakamise-dori in Tokyo and learned that it was illegal to bring them back to the US.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But its for scientific purposes...I'm sure /end sarcasm

2 ( +11 / -9 )

28k ads on ivory? WTH. I'm boycotting rakuten for now. No Rakuten shopping until further notice of good action. I'm grounded. NO! They're grounded.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

They have no shame.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm sure your lack of purchases will break them!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

a search for “ivory” on Rakuten’s Japanese website last month yielded more than 28,000 ads for elephant ivory products.

Disgraceful. You would expect this from possibly a Chinese site, not Japanese, especially since Japan likes to portray itself as so pro-ecology/environmentally friendly.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

I used to work at Rakuten, and I can say 98% of internal comm. was in Japanese. It's a joke to the Japanese employees that they are required to use English. Most don't care, but some wanted to learn. Many foreigners are leaving Rakuten.

I think there is still a strong domestic mindset at Rakuten, especially among the mid-level managers. I was told by one manager that "This is a Japanese company. We are not flexible". All I had to say to that attitude, was good luck selling products outside AP region with that mindset... Your competitors will be flexible to sell their products.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I was a bit skeptical about this one so just went to the Envoronmental Investigation Agency site to read the complete report.

A quick search will lead the interested to it.

A bit on the sensational side but quite informative.

Recommended reading.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lots of products that are bad for the environment/endangered species, that people associate with China, are popular in Japan. There is a large customer base for that stuff here. Not just ivory. The bear bile, tiger paw,etc., products sell well in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And that's the end of using Rakuten for me - and I am sure many others when this becomes more well known. Disgusting. Not shocking though.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I love Rakuten

-1 ( +4 / -5 )


I just bought a new bike and needed to add a lock, light, better seat, and a umbrella holder for the wife.

Searched on Amazon and Rakuten for hours. Went to the local Juntendo and found the same maker and ALL the items from 100 to 450 yen cheaper.

So, be careful, though it is convenient, the internet is not always the best price anymore.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Multinational corporation without a conscience. Say it aint true......

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Boycotting without finding out if the ivory is illegal or not? Just seems like more internet activism based on people's feeeeeelings and not any facts. It's EXTREMELY difficult to import new ivory, and I doubt it would be announced all over Rakuten and Amazon were it so. Ivory from stockpiles from before 1989 are perfectly legal to use.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Okay, the whale stuff isn't cool, but the ivory is okay. Bear with me here. Game Rangers and customs officials catch smugglers and poachers all the time, normally AFTER the elephant is dead, and confiscate the ivory.

They also sometimes need to kill some of the elephants if a new home cannot be found for them since elephants are territorial and tremendously destructive if there are two adult male elephants in the same area. How destructive? Well, elephants can't janken to resolve territorial disagreements, so instead they knock down trees to show how big and bad they are. Whichever male elephant can knock down the biggest tree wins. This happens EVERY time the two males meet, which can really ruin the habitats and food supplies for other species, so please spare me your "how can you kill elephants!!!" rage, the culls really are necessary. Of course they can't leave the ivory just lying around or poachers would move in and grab it.

Oh, and elephants also die from natural causes, and that ivory is also removed so as not to provide an incentive for poachers to roam the parks.

The enormously valuable ivory ends up sitting in warehouses while the understaffed and ill-equipped game rangers struggle to battle well armed and numerous smugglers and poachers on the tiny budgets. To understand the magnitude of the game rangers' task you really have to visit Africa and go to one of the big parks, like Kruger National Park, which stretches across three countries and has an area of just under 20 000 square kilometers (that's about the size of New Jersey) .. and has less than 50 rangers to patrol that whole area. New Jersey has more than 4000 police for the same size area, and people still say it is impossible to find even one when you want to.

Even selling a tiny percentage of the ivory stockpiles would significantly help to put more rangers in service, as well as equip them better so they don't get killed by poachers. As a result the governments periodically license the selling of controlled quantities of ivory.

I'm not 100% sure that all the ivory on Rakuten is legal ivory, but there is legal ivory out there and buying it does help to stop poaching. Not buying it and ranting about any site selling ivory may make you feel tremendously morally superior, but actually it isn't helping with anything except your already over-sized ego.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

While international trade of ivory is prohibited, domestic trade of ivory products is OK. Search the Rakuten web page. Almost all of alleged ivory products are tiny hanko. It is known that Japanese hanko artists imported stockpile of ivories would be enough for their work for decades before the Washington Convention came into effect.

There is no prohibition of trade of whale meat. "Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary" has no effect in Japan, as well as in many countries that do not recognize the "Sanctuary".

I always wonder why eco activists play their game dishonestly.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

The poachers are better organized than some of the government agencies in some of these countries where they are killing the elephants. With the use of airplanes, night vision devices and automatic weapons to kill their prey, they can work quickly and be out of the area before they can be apprehended. They are not afraid of the threat of going to jail or being killed in a raid, because that would have deterred them a long time ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While international trade of ivory is prohibited, domestic trade of ivory products is OK.

As far as I know, Japan doesn't have elephants...

Suggesting that ALL the ivory being sold on Rakuten was from stockpiles and bought before the ban seems a little shall we say, naive?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Excellent post Frungy! Another sensationalist article aimed at a Japanese company by environMENTAL activists. They watch too much CNN.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Suggesting that ALL the ivory being sold on Rakuten was from stockpiles and bought before the ban seems a little shall we say, naive?

Is there any evidence that ivory is currently being illegally imported to Japan and sold by one of the (over 55,000) merchants using Rakuten's e-commerce system?

We all know there are hundreds of years worth of imported ivory in domestic circulation in Japan. It's no surprise that there are still small businesses and individuals out there who trade it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Rather than just looking at the sale of ivory, before people start getting up in arms about this they need to find out about compliance issues at Rakuten. Where is this ivory being sourced from? If it is illegal, then it is time to put on the Doc Martens and lay in the boot. If it is legally obtained, there is no real issue. That being said, however, I would argue that it is very difficult for Rakuten to trace the source of every ivory item listed on its website. If that is the case, then they need to either ban the sale of ivory items, or limit sales to those vendors who are able to prove without a doubt the source of their products.

On the other hand, the Internet mob simply pointing the finger at Rakuten and baying for blood is not the answer.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

**Is there any evidence that ivory is currently being illegally imported to Japan and sold by one of the (over 55,000) merchants using Rakuten's e-commerce system?

We all know there are hundreds of years worth of imported ivory in domestic circulation in Japan. It's no surprise that there are still small businesses and individuals out there who trade it.**

Do you know it is legally imported? I think you'd have to be very naive to suggest that all ivory trade in any country is legal. Japan is well known for loop holes, scientific research, cough cough, to get around things.

Do you have links or support to back up your claims that they have hundreds of years worth of legally important stock piles of ivory?

And frankly, regardless of some of it being legal or not. the fact that it is for sale when we know that poaching is a massive issue, in my opinion, is sickening. It's right up their with shark fin soup. Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

A strange as it seems, there is nothing legally wrong with rakuten selling these products. As stated above, they are buying stockpiled ivory (probably) and the whale meat is from their 'research' program (probably). Unless this group can prove Japan is buying and selling poached ivory and poached whale meat there is nothing they can do about it.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Rakuten is just an innocent retailer. Japan is not the US or UK, if it's not illegal to sell whale and ivory in Japan, what is the issue?

This mindless slandering of an arbitrary company by this EIA outfit is really low. Anyone can find this stuff for sale on the internet if they know how to use a search engine.

This NGO should quit doing basic internet searches and do some real work - attack the Japanese government for it's policies if it must make a fuss, but slandering a company without evidence of wrongdoing is an outrage.

I just started reading Jim Roger's "Adventure Capitalist" book, apparently one of the lessons he drew from his record 3-year road trip to all corners of the planet is that NGOs are a "scam". I wonder if the likes of EIA are what he is talking about.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

tmarieMar. 19, 2014 - 10:02AM JST

Japan is well known for loop holes, scientific research, cough cough, to get around things.

The anti whaling advoctaes are in no position to preach Japan on ethics since the moratorium of whaling is way overdue because of the bad faith of the anti whaling countries. The 1986 moratorium was to be lifted by 1990 at the latest, but thanks to the delaying efforts of the anti whaling countries, moratorium is still continuing. It is like a delinquent borrower who takes moratorium for granted and advertise he does not need to repay anything.

International Whaling Commission. http://www.iwcoffice.org/private/downloads/1lv6fvjz06f48wc44w4s4w8gs/Schedule-February-2013.pdf

10 (e) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10, catch limits for the killing for commercial purposes of whales from all stocks for the 1986 coastal and the 1985/86 pelagic seasons and thereafter shall be zero. This provision will be kept under review, based upon the best scientific advice, and by 1990 at the latest the Commission will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects of this decision on whale stocks and consider modification of this provision and the establishment of other catch limits.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I don't people even understand Rakuten's basic business model.

Rakuten really doesn't sell anything. They are basically a cross between Ebay and Amazon. They just provide a service to Japanese small and medium sized businesses and allow them to use their servers and resources to create a unique shop on Rakuten Ichiba. There are well over 50,000 unique shops on Rakuten.

Selling whale meat is not illegal in Japan, same thing with selling ivory, as long as they were legally obtained. This is just a case of pure cultural imperialism with Europeans trying to impose their moral systems on a different culture.

They can get lost as far as I'm concerned.

Wake me up when they find a documented case of illegal ivory being sold over Rakuten Ichiba.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Rakuten isn't selling directly nor they hold the stocks. Basically the portal is acting as a middleman. Yes maybe shame on them for not filtering what the sellers are posting there, so while at it might as well point fingers of shame at other online ecommerce sites all over. Just IMHO rakuten shouldn't be blamed.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

While I 100% do not support Ivory, they are legal documented Ivory bought from dead elephants of natural causes, there was an article on JT a few years back about how most of the legal Ivory is being shipped to China instead of Japan now.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Rakuten is crap to begin with. It's 90% ads and the buttons are so haphazard it's worse than Yahoo! Japan. Add to that they support companies that jack up their prices seventy% before Rakuten promises a 70% discount and you get the kind of things they support. This is just another example.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Rakuten must be the crappiest, with the worst atmosphere company I have the unpleasure to work with... NEVER AGAIN...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

oh this is going viral on Twitter...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'll bet this article gets pulled. Japan Inc. doesn't like criticism heh

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I searched google and Rakuten's and found nothing! There are blank images(many of them) that were displayed. I thinking Rakuten did removed the products. I did further searches both in japanese and english keywords with complex queries related to ivory and whale meat. I have found NOTHING! Rakuten probably took action. I am relieved! Thank you RAKUTEN! My boycotting protest ends here! Time to go Rakuten shopping now!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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