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WWF Japan urges gov't to reconsider ivory trade policy

Ivory products seized by Chinese customs after they were illegally exported from Japan are seen at Shijiazhuang Customs in Hebei province, China, in this photo provided by the nongovernmental organization Traffic.

TOKYO -- The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Japan on May 8 submitted written requests urging a review of the Japanese government policy on the domestic ivory market to the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Ivory trade is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). WWF Japan filed the papers arguing that Japan's ivory market provides a hotbed for illegal international trade in the pricey tusks.

The Conference of the Parties to CITES in 2016 called for a shutdown of ivory markets in the parties that could lead to illegal ivory trade. However, the Japanese government has claimed that it does not recognize its ivory market being a breeding ground for illegal ivory exports, allowing distribution of the material domestically.

According to WWF Japan, a total of approximately 2 metric tons of ivory was illegally exported to China from Japan over a six-year period until 2016.

In the written requests, WWF Japan urges reassessment of whether there is no illicit trade in the domestic ivory market and objective verification of countermeasures in Japan in comparison with those in other countries where the termination of domestic ivory markets has progressed.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Suzuki, Science & Environment News Department)

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