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EIA Applauds Japan’s AEON for Elephant Ivory Phase-out

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) praised AEON’s official announcement that it will phase out all sales of elephant ivory by tenants in all of AEON’s numerous malls across Japan by March 2020.

EIA president Allan Thornton said: “AEON’s decision to end all ivory sales in its malls sends a strong signal to the people of Japan that domestic ivory trade in Japan must end to help protect Africa's elephants.”

AEON, one of Japan’s largest retail companies with more than 50 malls across Japan, prohibited ivory sales in its directly managed stores starting June 2015, and is now expanding its policy to all mall tenants. There are currently 180 hanko name seal shops in Aeon malls countrywide. The policy change is anticipated to have a broad impact on Japan’s ivory market.

AEON’s environment representative connected AEON’s policy change to the global movement to close ivory markets. In 2016, 180 parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including Japan, unanimously agreed upon a resolution calling for the closure of domestic ivory markets in countries with legal markets linked to illegal trade or poaching. The United States has already instituted a near-total ban on ivory and China’s ban will be in place by the end of 2017. The Government of Japan claims it is not obliged to abide by the resolution

AEON's move follows Japanese internet giant Rakuten’s enactment of a comprehensive policy change to end all sales of elephant ivory products, effective August 2017. Other leading e-commerce retailers such as Google, Amazon.com, Alibaba, Tencent, Etsy, and eBay have already banned ivory sales on all their sites globally. Other hanko name seal retailers in Japan have also ceased ivory sales.

Yahoo! Japan continues to sell large quantities of ivory products on its online auction and shopping sites including whole tusks and hanko name seals, which are often associated with ivory tusks of illegal origin. EIA urges Yahoo! Japan, owned by SoftBank, to cease all ivory sales to eliminate Japan’s largest internet ivory marketplace.

EIA investigations have exposed rampant illegal activity via glaring loopholes in Japan’s ivory control system. Japan’s changes to its Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LCES) are inadequate and do nothing to address the serious problems in its ineffectual control system. Japan recently announced a nationwide campaign to register whole tusks over a two-year period. EIA considers such a campaign tantamount to enacting a large-scale illegal ivory amnesty that will only serve to promote more ivory trade, counter to international efforts to close markets to protect elephants.

“While the world waits for the Government of Japan to close its domestic ivory market, it’s exciting to see the private sector step up to protect elephants,” said EIA senior policy analyst Danielle Grabiel. “EIA continues to encourage the Government of Japan to urgently close its legal domestic ivory market consistent with the CITES resolution and global efforts to protect elephants from the deadly ivory trade.”

Contact: Amy Zets Croke, Senior Policy Analyst, amyzets@eia-global.org

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