REPORT: Submission of the briefing on TMG’s subsidies to ivory industry to the Governor

484 465 Japan Tiger Elephant Organization

Project Examples


  • The international commercial trade in ivory was banned in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in response to a mass poaching crisis. Prior to the international trade ban, Japan was the world’s largest consumer of ivory.      
  • Japan is the only country to have received ivory twice after the international ivory trade ban went into effect in 1990, importing auctioned ivory from southern African nations in a CITES-approved sale in 1999, and then again in 2009. The ivory imported into Japan was monopolized by leading ivory associations in Tokyo and Osaka.
  • In 2016, in response to another poaching crisis, CITES Parties adopted a revised resolution by consensus, recommending that all countries with legal domestic ivory markets that contribute to poaching or illegal trade close them urgently.[1] The main goal is to prevent legal markets from creating an opportunity to launder illegal ivory under the guise of legality,[2] and to reduce the risk that ivory items acquired in a country with a legal market and exported to third countries could fuel the demand for illegal ivory items, undermining enforcement and demand reduction activities.[3] Japan joined that consensus.
  • Japan is an outlier in the global community, with thousands of government-registered ivory traders, an industry that continues to manufacture ivory products. Furthermore, there is evidence that such active legal domestic trade is linked to the illegal international trade.[4] However, Japan’s market remains open.[5]
  • In response to an international appeal, in January 2020, Tokyo’s Governor committed to undertaking an assessment of Tokyo’s ivory trade, and established an Advisory Council composed of experts to make recommendations on steps Tokyo should take.
  • After two years of deliberations, the Advisory Council released a report with its official recommendations in March 2022. The Council’s recommendations to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) include that the Tokyo government should consider legal measures to address trade in ivory.[6]
  • However, the TMG administration has not acted to implement the recommendation to consider legal measures since the release of the report.  

[1] Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP19), paragraph 3

[2] CoP17 Doc. 27 “ACTIONS TO COMBAT WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING” submitted by the US

[3] CITES SC74 Doc.39 Annex 2 submitted by the EU

[4]  EIA. (December 2020) Japan’s Illegal Ivory Exports.

Sakamoto M. 2022. Smugglers’ Source: Japan’s Legal Ivory Market; An Analysis of Chinese Court Decisions of Ivory Illegally Exported from Japan. Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund

[5] EIA&JTEF. 2023. Reality Check: Japan’s Legal Domestic Ivory Market

[6] Report of Advisory Council on Regulation of Ivory Trade (March 2022)

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