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Conservationists Applaud Bipartisan House Letter Calling on Japan to Ban Ivory Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today applauded Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Daniel Donovan (R-NY) for sending a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 16 members of the United States House of Representatives to Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae urging the government of Japan to enact a ban on its domestic trade in ivory. The Congressional appeal comes one week after the results of a comprehensive aerial census documented a 30 percent decline in Africa’s wild elephant population from 2007-2014.

Unlike the United States and China, which have begun to enact near-total bans on domestic ivory trade, the letter notes with concern that more than 8,000 ivory retailers continue to legally operate in Japan out of brick-and-mortar stores and online websites like Yahoo! Japan and Rakuten Ichiba. A series of investigations in 2015 and 2016 by EIA found that Japan’s ivory controls are riddled with loopholes which are easily exploited by illegal traders, and that significant quantities of ivory are illegally exported to China.

“For twenty years Japan has failed to enforce meaningful controls over its flourishing trade in illegal ivory and Africa’s elephants are paying the price for their failure,” said Danielle Fest Grabiel, Senior Policy Analyst at EIA. “EIA urges the government of Japan to support the 29 African nations calling for Japan and other countries to ban domestic trade in elephant ivory.”

The letter coincides with the passage of a motion at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Congress urging all governments with legal ivory markets to close them down. Leading conservation groups in Africa and Japan, as well as the Editorial Board of the Washington Post, have also called on Japan in recent weeks to enact a ban on their ivory trade.

“Japan has turned a blind eye to its illegal ivory trade and the slaughter of Africa’s elephants and it's time for Japan to take action to ban such trade and help to protect the elephants,” said Allan Thornton, president of EIA. “A business-as-usual approach by Japan is a slap in the face to the efforts of African range states fighting to end the slaughter of their elephants.”

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List of Signed Members:

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Daniel M. Donovan Jr. (R-NY)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
Susan A. Davis (D-CA)
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)
Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA)
Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Steve Israel (D-NY)
William R. Keating (D-MA)
Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
Peter T. King (R-NY)
Barbara Lee (D-TX)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY)

Contact:
Maggie Dewane, Communications and Press Officer, EIA, 202-483-6621, mdewane@eia-global.org

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