While nations across the globe are closing their domestic ivory markets to protect elephants from the trade in ivory, including the United States and China, Japan’s ivory market remains open. Japan is the world’s most significant legal ivory market, with a huge ivory stockpile and thousands of ivory traders.
Japan has been unable to control its domestic ivory market; its ivory trade controls are ridden with loopholes that enable illegal trade. EIA’s investigative evidence over the years has exposed Japan’s porous ivory control system and superficial reforms. In addition to facilitating ivory laundering, Japan’s open market stimulates demand and makes effective enforcement impossible. Japanese retail industry leaders like Rakuten, Aeon, and Yahoo! Japan have acted to cease ivory sales, and their role in Japan’s porous and problematic domestic ivory market.
In addition to enabling illegal ivory trade, Japan’s legal market is also contributing to the illegal international ivory trade problem. Ivory from Japan’s open market is being illegally exported to other countries, like China. Illegal Japanese ivory exports undermine bans on domestic ivory trade enacted in importing countries and violate the international ivory trade ban implemented under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).