The world is looking ahead to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. In the spirit of international peace, for which the competitions stand, the Japanese government has the unique opportunity to finally stop the sale and trade of elephant ivory in its own country!
Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III under President George Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Barack Obama administration have approached the government of Japan with a call to stop their ivory trade (the Washington Post reported). Fondation Franz Weber fully supports the call of Baker and Clinton. FFW has been actively fighting on the front lines for more than 40 years for the protection and survival of the African elephant, which is threatened with extinction. This can only be achieved through an unrestricted ban on ivory trade.
Fondation Franz Weber, together with various other species protection organisations, has repeatedly approached the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, in order to bring about an end to the ivory trade in Japan.
The Fondation also provides scientific, logistical and financial support to the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which has also approached the Japanese authorities to stop the ivory trade in Japan forever. The AEC brings together 32 African member states with the goal of achieving a healthy, viable elephant population without threats from the ivory trade.
Japan’s ivory market
After the United States, United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore closed their domestic markets for elephant ivory, Japan is the world’s largest remaining legal ivory market with more ivory traders, wholesalers and manufacturers than any other country. As of July 2020, 16,175 ivory trafficking facilities were registered with the government, 18% of which were in the Tokyo Prefecture. Japan’s legalised stockpiles of whole tusks and cuts total nearly 260 tons.
Illegal exports and lack of enforcement
Japan’s legal domestic market is supplying the illegal international ivory trade, undermining other nations’ bans on domestic ivory trade and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which requires certificates for trade in “legal” ivory.
Last year, Fondation Franz Weber, along with 14 other nature and animal protection organisations, called on the European Union to close its domestic market for ivory once and for all by removing the exemptions currently still granted in the law. The European Commission is expected to announce further changes to its ivory legislation soon.
Now it is up to Japan, as host of the postponed 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, to lead by example. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese government must urgently close the ivory market and join the international community in protecting free-ranging elephants and finally put an end to the trade in ivory.