Japan’s refusal to stop ivory trade undermines bans elsewhere

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Issei Kato/Reuters

Japan has got out of implementing tough measures to clamp down on domestic sales of ivory. The move could undermine the international effort to halt the ivory trade.

Elephants are poached for the ivory in their tusks, which is sold on to consumers in Asian countries like China and Vietnam. As a result, the ivory trade is a significant threat to elephants’ survival.

Last week, the standing committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the global body that regulates trade in animal parts, met in Geneva. Several countries, particularly from Africa where elephants are poached, lobbied for CITES to force Japan to introduce a national ivory action plan. This would have forced the country to take concrete steps to clamp down, possibly including a ban on the domestic trade in antique ivory.

However, Japan managed to sidestep the proposal.

Responsibilities ducked

“It’s

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