1 FAQ on ivory trade Q1. Is it true that elephants are on the verge of extinction? Q2. Are import and export of ivory banned? Q3. How were the ivories that were exceptionally accepted twice for import/export in the past acquired? Are they not poached ivories? Q4. Is it legal to trade ivory or ivory products within Japan? Q5. Is online-trading in ivory or ivory products legal? Q6. How could the number of registered whole tusk be on the rise in Japan while ivory import has been banned? Q7. What is the total amount of ivory imported to Japan in the past? Q8. Does it make sense that online sales of ivory are growing although its import is banned? Q9. Isn t the domestic trade in ivory in Japan giving rise to elephant poaching in Africa? Q10. Why does poaching occur in Africa so frequently? Q11. Could smuggled ivory be laundered as legally imported one within Japan and re-exported due to a flaw in the management system of the domestic ivory in Japan? Q12. We hear about a movement abroad towards a complete ban on the domestic trade in ivory. Why does Japan seek to continue ivory trade in Japan by putting in place a complex domestic control system?
2 Q1. Is it true that elephants are on the verge of extinction? A1. Elephant is one of the endangered species. However, the level of its extinction risk differs among species or region where they inhabit. As for African elephant in the southern part of Africa, the risk of extinction is considered to be small. - There are two widely recognized species of elephants; the African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) *1. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (2015), the Asian elephant is classified as Endangered and the African elephant as Vulnerable, resulting in elephant as a whole considered to be threatened due to declining trend of elephant population. - However, note that as the distribution range of the African elephant is widely spread in African continent, IUCN also conducts regional-level assessment and it has been shown that, there are certain regions, where African elephant population is not declining. - For example, while African elephant population in the Central Africa region *3 is classified as Endangered, the population in the Southern Africa region *4 is classified as Least Concerned *5, which is a category with the lowest extinction risk among all categories, as the number of elephants in this region is high and no trend of decrease has been found. *1: As for the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), some suggest that the species can be further separated into two species, namely the Savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), which inhabits in the forest area. *2: IUCN Red List has several categories under which species threatened with extinction are classified. They are Critically Endangered (CN), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) in order of extinction risk. *3: African elephant population inhabiting in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. *4: African elephant population inhabiting in Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. *5: Categories set out for species that do not qualify as threatened at present are Near Threatened (NT) and Least Concerned (LC) in this order which come after the category Vulnerable (VU).
3 Q2. Are import and export of ivory banned? A2. Import and export of ivory for international commercial purposes have been banned in principle by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, also known as the Washington Convention). International commercial trade for Asian elephant has been banned since the entry into force of CITES in 1975 and for African elephant since However, trade in ivory obtained solely from African elephants in the Southern Africa region, which has a large population and showing no trend of decline, was authorized twice in the past under CITES. All proceeds from these one-off sales are used exclusively for the conservation of African elephants and community development programs within or adjacent to the African elephant range. Despite the ban of international commercial trade above, note that import and export of ivory acquired before the entry into force of CITES (before 1975) can be authorized subject to issuance of certificate by the exporting country. - To prevent certain species of wild fauna and flora from extinction caused by over-exploitation through international commercial trade, CITES lists, depending on the degree of extinction risk, in its three Appendices (Appendix I to III) those species considered to be in need of trade control. International trade in those species is regulated in accordance with the Appendix under which the species is listed * 1. - Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by international trade. International commercial trade in the species listed in this Appendix is banned in principle * 2. - Appendix II includes species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation. International commercial trade is allowed for these species when certain conditions are met and an export permit is issued by the exporting country *2. - Appendix Ⅲ includes species which country of origin that is a Party to CITES identifies as necessary to put under regulation and as requiring co-operation of other CITES Parties in the control of trade *2. - Asian elephant has been listed in Appendix I since 1975 when CITES entered into force and thus, international commercial trade in ivory of Asian elephant has been banned in principle since then. - African elephant was once listed in the Appendix II in 1977, some years after CITES entering into force. That means international commercial trade in ivory of African elephant, either whole tusk,
4 worked ivory or cut pieces, was possible only if an export permit was issued by the Parties. However, as poaching targeting elephant ivory escalated in the 1980s mainly in Eastern Africa, it was decided to uplist African elephant in Appendix I in Since its uplisting became effective in 1990, the international commercial trade (i.e. import and export) in the elephant ivory was banned in principle. - Later in 1997, African elephant population in three Southern African countries, namely Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, was recognized as having less risk of extinction and was moved back to Appendix II. In the same way, the population in South Africa was also placed back to Appendix II. In this regard, the conditions for trade for both importing and exporting countries were included in the Appendices annotations, because of concern over the impact which the international commercial trade in those ivories might have on African elephant population in other countries. - As it was considered that these conditions were fulfilled, African elephant ivories were imported twice from the Southern African countries mentioned above (note: South Africa exported only at the second one-off sale) to Japan in 1999 and to Japan and China in 2009 respectively, under rigorous control in compliance with rules set at the Conference of the Parties of CITES. After 1990, aside from these exceptional one-off sales, no international commercial trade in elephant ivory has been allowed. These commercial trades in ivories were realized reflecting Southern African countries strong request and all proceeds from the trade in these ivories are used exclusively for the conservation of African elephant and community development programs within or adjacent to the elephant range. - In regard to elephant ivory and ivory products obtained before the provisions of CITES were applied to *3, their import and export are allowed when proven that they were acquired before the application of CITES provisions and receiving the certificate for that effect from the authority of exporting country. (Only 17 African elephant ivory tusks were re-exported from Japan under the provisions of CITES within the period from 1990 to 2014.) *1: Please see the URL below for more information on CITES: Ministry of Environment, Japan s website: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan s website: *2: Please refer to Article II of the Convention text for precise definition of species which are to be listed in each Appendix categories.
5 *3: For Asian elephant, before July 1, 1975 when CITES entered into force, and for African elephant, before February 26, 1976 when African elephant population was listed in the CITES Appendix for the first time (i.e. Ghana population in Appendix III).
6 Q3. How were the ivories that were exceptionally accepted twice for import/export in the past acquired? Are they not poached ivories? A3. African elephant ivories, which were authorized for international commercial trades (see A2 for reference) exceptionally twice in the past, were acquired from elephants died of natural causes or those culled due to attacks on humans causing their injuries or deaths. That means those ivories were not acquired by killing elephants purposely for their ivories. - The yearly mortality rate of African elephant is estimated to be a few percent, while it seems to vary among different areas, depending upon one situation to another which the African elephant inhabits. This means that out of one thousand African elephants, tens of them die every year. About 70 % of African elephant s distribution area is located outside the protected area such as national park, and therefore elephants sometimes inhabit relatively close to area where local people live in. In such area, there are some human-elephant conflicts occurring, for example, elephants damaging crop field or attacking people. In such a situation, authorities may conduct extermination of harmful elephants. Also, in such a place as national park, there were cases that elephants were culled for population control, in order to prevent other wildlife species from decreasing or extinction resulting from vegetation change caused by the over-population of elephants. - African elephant ivories, which were authorized for international commercial trades exceptionally twice in the past, were acquired from elephants died of natural causes or culled and not from the ones that were killed purposely for their ivories.
7 Q4. Is it legal to trade ivory or ivory products within Japan? A4. It is not illegal to trade (i.e. to sell, buy, give, receive, lend or borrow) whole ivory tusk that is registered prior to trade. It is neither illegal for notified industry participants to sell ivory products. Trading in ivory products without those registrations is subject to penalty under the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (LCES). - It is required to abide by the rule under LCES in order to trade (i.e. to sell, buy, give, receive, lend or borrow) ivories and ivory products or to advertise or display them over-the-counter for selling purpose within Japan. - Whole tusks are authorized to be traded, advertised or displayed domestically if each of these tusks are individually registered in advance by certifying that the tusk was obtained before the international commercial trade ban of ivory (i.e. before 1990). - LCES requires that a registration card of the ivory be accompanied for its trade, the registration card be shown with the ivory for its display, and the fact that the ivory is being registered and the registered code and number be shown along with the advertisement (if those display or advertisement is for selling purpose). Non-compliance with the rule (trade or display without the registration card, or advertisement without required information as explained above) constitutes an infraction of LCES and such an infraction is subject to heavy penalty under LCES (imprisonment and/or fine * ). - As for ivory products (not in the form of whole tusk) and cut pieces of ivory, only those who notify the competent ministers as ivory industry participants in advance can trade them as their business. The registered participants above must make an inventory of transaction records and preserve it. Non-compliance with this rule constitutes an infraction of LCES and such an infraction is also subject to penalty under LCES. *Penalty for illegal trading, displaying and advertising of whole tusks under LCES: A maximum penalty for illegal trade in whole tusks is an imprisonment up to five years and/or a fine up to five million Japanese yen (approximately USD 50,000 as of July 2016) and a fine up to a hundred million yen (approximately USD 1,000,000 idem.) may be imposed for a corporate body.
8 Q5. Is online-trading in ivory or ivory products legal? A5. The same rule as over-the-counter trading (see A4 for reference) applies for online-trading (i.e. to sell, buy, give, receive, lend or borrow) in ivory or ivory product in Japan. Given that overseas trade on the Internet is equivalent to importing and exporting, the online-trading in ivory or ivory products with overseas is illegal unless obtaining authorization from the authorities of importing and exporting countries. - The same rule as over-the-counter trading, as explained in A4, applies to online-trading (i.e. to sell, buy, give, receive, lend or borrow) in ivory or ivory product in Japan. - In this regard, 1) as to whole ivory tusk, it is required to clearly present the fact that the tusk is registered and the registered code and number in the advertisement on the internet for trade, including placing on auction, and 2) as to ivory products and cut pieces of ivory, it is required for those who conduct business involving trade in these items to register as ivory industry participant in advance and must make and preserve the transaction records. - As mentioned in A2, exporting ivory or ivory product is prohibited in principle. It is, therefore, illegal to ship ivory or ivory product abroad without export permit when trading it with overseas on the Internet. Please make sure to obtain a permit for international delivery of ivory or ivory product. (It is also illegal to directly receive ivory or ivory product delivered from overseas, which is considered as import, unless obtaining import permit for it.) - In online-trading ivory or ivory product, it is important for buyers to have a good understanding of rules on trading them when purchasing.
9 Q6. How could the number of registered whole tusk be on the rise in Japan while ivory import has been banned? A6. A number of ivories were legally imported into Japan in the past, and it is reasonable that those ivories (whole tusks) are registered prior to their trading. The increase in whole tusk registration in recent years could be mainly attributed to the rule on ivory trade becoming widely known and the disposition of property by elderly people. - As much as about 2,006 tons of whole tusks were imported just by taking the period between the year after Japan joined CITES (entry into force on November 4, 1980) and the year when international commercial trade in ivory was banned ( )*. Furthermore, it is known that many ivory tusks were legally imported to Japan before Japan joined CITES. On the other hand, only about 305 tons of whole tusks (including 89 tons imported through exceptionally approved one-off sales, which were immediately registered under the domestic ivory trading system) in total have been registered up until now since the beginning of the registration system in Japan ( ), which is quite a small amount when compared with the total volume of whole tusks import. From these facts, we can assume that a great deal of ivories legally imported in the past still have not been registered yet. Given these circumstances, it is reasonable that ivories have been continuously registered even today despite the ban on ivory import. - LCES (see A4 for reference) does not require registration of ivory for possession. Thus, it is estimated that many of these personally possessed ivories have not been registered yet. In recent years, the ivory registration system has become widely known to public including business operators, which could be attributed to promotion of the possessors incentive to register ivory. Furthermore, it is assumed that the need to transfer ivory through inheritance, advancement or disposition of property due to aging or death of ivory possessor is bringing more cases to register ivory. *Based on the calculation using data from CITES Trade Database ( provided by CITES Secretariat.
10 Q7. What is the total amount of ivory imported to Japan in the past? A7. Japan imported ivory 1) before the international commercial trade in African elephant was banned under CITES in 1990, and 2) twice after that, when the one-off international commercial trades were exceptionally authorized in 1999 and Japan imported ivory 1) before the international commercial trade in African elephant was banned under CITES, and 2) twice after that, when the one-off international commercial trades were exceptionally authorized. - Although no cumulative total amount of the trade before Japan became a Party to CITES is available, as stated in A6, the following amounts were imported: 1) approximately 2,006 tons between the year after Japan became a Party to CITES and when the ban was placed on international commercial trade in ivory; and 2) approximately 89 tons when the one-off international commercial trades were exceptionally authorized twice in 1999 and 2009, pursuant to a procedure prescribed by the Conference of the Parties to CITES. - For ivory that the exporting country issued a certificate as a specimen acquired before the provisions of the Convention were applied to and an authorization to export, the import is allowed even after 1990.
11 Q8. Does it make sense that online sales of ivory are growing although its import is banned? A8. As there are many ivory tusks that were legally imported to Japan in the past, it is reasonable that there are sales of those ivory tusks on the Internet. - As answered in A6 and 7, considering a great amount of ivory in Japan which were legally imported in the past, it is reasonable that there are ivory sales on the Internet despite its import ban. - Now that the scale of online trade market itself is expanding, it is conceivable that the increase in trade online is not limited to ivory/ivory products. - Police and Internet shopping mall business operators monitor to prevent illegal ivory/ivory products slipping into online sales.
12 Q9. Isn t the domestic trade in ivory in Japan giving rise to elephant poaching in Africa? A9. In Japan, significant smuggling cases of African elephant ivory have not been confirmed in recent years. Elephant ivory that is allowed for trade within Japan is only the legally imported ones in the past. There is no evidence to substantiate that the domestic ivory trade within Japan is contributing to elephant poaching or ivory smuggling abroad. - Ivory and ivory products that are allowed for sales in Japan are limited to either those which have existed in Japan since before the import was banned under CITES or those which were imported through international commercial trades exceptionally authorized twice in the past. - Japan Customs enforce a strict control over import and export. No significant smuggling cases of elephant ivory have been confirmed in Japan in recent years. Nor cases of smuggling into a third country of ivories destined to Japan have been detected. In addition, according to reports by the CITES secretariat and others, Japan is recognized neither as the destination nor the transit point of illicit elephant ivory. - It is groundless, therefore, to point out that having lawful ivory/ivory products trade allowed within Japan is contributing to elephant poaching or ivory smuggling abroad. *
13 Q10. Why does poaching occur in Africa so frequently? A10. The involvement of international organized criminal group etc. in African elephant poaching and illicit ivory trade is suspected. Poaching could be attributed to such organized crime combined with weak governance and poverty in African countries, which leads to its occurring frequently. - According to a report (*1) submitted to the Standing Committee of CITES and some other reports, they point out three contributing factors accounting for overwhelming poaching in Africa; the first factor is weak governance in many of elephant range states, the second is poverty and the third is a demand for illicit ivory in Asian emerging countries. - A report of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) (*2) specifies Somalian armed insurgents among others are engaged in the poaching of African elephant. Another report (*3), that of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) jointly compiled with relevant bodies and organizations, reveals possible involvement of highly organized international criminal groups in large-scale trafficking of poached ivories. - These elements combined, are considered to be the cause of poaching on African elephant. *1: *2: *3:
14 Q11. Could smuggled ivory be laundered as legally imported one within Japan and re-exported due to a flaw in the management system of the domestic ivory in Japan? A11. Considering the strict control over the imports and domestic trade in elephant ivory in Japan, we think that such criticism is not substantiated by facts. - As answered in A9, Japan Customs enforce strict control on imports and no significant ivory smuggling cases have been confirmed in Japan in recent years. - Furthermore, an export permit is required in order to export ivory or ivory product even for those acquired before the provisions of CITES were applied to African elephant (i.e. before 1975). This permit is issued after careful examination on its period of acquisition, on the basis that the ivory was lawfully acquired. Only 17 African elephant ivory tusks had their permits issued within the period from 1990 to 2014 and were re-exported from Japan. - This granting of export permit does not have a direct link with the domestic ivory management system and the examination mentioned above is independently conducted. - As described above, we think that it is groundless to point out that illegally imported ivory in recent years has been laundered as legally imported one within Japan and re-exported legally, since the number of ivory re-exported with permit is extremely limitied.
15 Q12. We hear about a movement abroad towards a complete ban on the domestic trade in ivory. Why does Japan seek to continue ivory trade in Japan by putting in place a complex domestic control system? A12. The Japanese government does not consider that prohibiting domestic trade in ivory, including legal commercial trade, could contribute to conservation of elephants. It is because we believe that the revenues obtained from legal trade will contribute to elephant conservation in range states, and that the prevention of illegal trade and thorough legal trade control are more important. - One of the resolutions* adopted at the Conference of the Party to CITES states that Commercial trade may be beneficial to the conservation of species and ecosystems, and to the development of local people (if revenues obtained from the trade is utilized for them) when carried out at levels that are not detrimental to the survival of the species in question. N.B. Phrase in parenthesis is added to the original text. - Some Southern African countries, whose African elephant population is stable and thus the population is listed on Appendix II of CITES, expect to obtain funds for elephant conservation and local community development through the lawful international trade in ivory which have been collected from elephants that died of natural causes or as a result of culling. In line with their intentions, Japan is making thorough efforts on preventing illegal ivory trade and on control of the legal trade. - To completely stop legal domestic ivory trade in each country means to deprive the Southern African countries, which have been successfully conserving elephants, of their ivory trading partners in the future. If lawful ivory trading were to be banned despite the low extinction risk of elephants, nature conservation related funds would decrease as a result of losing revenues expected through ivory trade. And, for instance, it can pose a problem for surveillance activity for poaching prevention. Moreover, we hear concerns that local people who suffer from damage caused by elephants could become less cooperative to elephant conservation if they could not benefit from living with elephants. - We must consider what we can do to conserve elephants as the international community taking into account the circumstances in countries seeking a way for coexisting with African elephants. From this point of view, Japan believes that complete ban of domestic ivory trade without careful consideration is not a proper option, and thus Japan is making thorough efforts on preventing illegal ivory trade and on control of its legal trade. - Also, as stated in A9, no significant smuggling cases of ivory have been confirmed in Japan recently. We consider, therefore, it is not true that lawful ivory trade within Japan is contributing to elephant
16 poaching or ivory smuggling abroad. - Even if by any chance an ivory eludes the law and is illegally imported to Japan, we strain to prevent the illegally imported ivory from trading within Japan through making a distinction between the illegal one and legal one. To this aim, legal ivory trade in Japan is controlled by developing a registration system for ivory and notification system of the industry participants selling ivory products under the law. - From these points of view, we do not think that complete ban of domestic sales in Japan of ivory and ivory products could contribute to elephant conservation. *