Japan’s Illegal Ivory Exports
EIA has been documenting illegal exports of ivory from Japan from publicly available sources, with a particular focus on China. Since 2009, more than 5.4 metric tons of ivory have been illegally exported from Japan to China, primarily in small packages.** The vast majority of seizures of ivory exported from Japan to China have been made by Chinese authorities.EIA has documented 72 seizures of Japanese ivory made in China since 2018, when China’s ivory ban went into effect. While these seizures are typically small amounts of ivory, they have been continuous and increasing and are likely a significant underestimate of the actual level of illegal trade. In some cases, Chinese ivory traders have relied on Japan’s legal market, online trade platforms, and lax export controls to supply their ivory inventory for re-sale to customers throughout China. Products seized include statues and carvings, jewelry, hanko name seal blanks, painting shaft heads, and whole tusks.
|Year||Number of Seizures||Location|
|2018||7||6 China, 1 Taiwan|
|2019||53||50 China, 2 Vietnam, 1 Japan|
|2020 (as of December 2020)||16||16 China|
|Total||76||72 China, 2 Vietnam, 1 Taiwan, 1 Japan|
**Data available upon request.These seizures of legally purchased ivory in Japan make it clear that Japan’s domestic ivory market poses a threat to international efforts to combat poaching and the illegal ivory trade, particularly as others close their own domestic trades and markets shift.