WildlifeDirect calls on Tokyo to ban Ivory Trade

Nairobi, 12thAugust 2020: WildlifeDirect applauds Honorable Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for taking the illegal trade in ivory seriously and setting up advisory council on regulating ivory trade to examine existing domestic trading regulations. We commend Governor Yuriko for this progressive action to investigate the trade in ivory in Tokyo and for exploring measures to prevent illegal ivory trade within the city. As we mark this year’s World Elephant Day, we call on the Governor to ban ivory trade and declare Tokyo an ivory free international city ahead of the Olympics Games.

WildlifeDirect is a conservation organization committed towards the achievement of sound policy and good governance in environmental and wildlife conservation and protection in Kenya. In 2019, together with several conservation partners, we organized the biggest Global March that attracted thousands of people from all walks of life to raise their voices against extinction and champion the protection of wildlife. WildlifeDirect continues to engage with various relevant state and non-state actors in the quest to promote effective environmental and wildlife governance in Kenya.

Biodiversity loss is a major global concern as shown in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020. The latest comprehensive Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that one million species are threatened with extinction, and that over-exploitation is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.

Not only are elephants’ ecological keystone species the loss of which has a catastrophic impact on the environment, illegal wildlife trade also undermines good governance and harms local communities by prying away benefits accrued by wildlife.  Africa’s elephants are continuously being poached in large numbers for their tusks. In our work, we recognize that Asian countries are part of illegal wildlife trade consumer countries. Japan’s open legal market enables the illegal trade. As such there is a need for efficient laws and regulations to curb the spread of illegal wildlife trade.

Nations are taking bold steps in addressing the biodiversity raising concerns. The majority of African elephant range countries have called on the global community to close domestic ivory markets worldwide. Kenya, for example, has totally banned any trade of its wildlife products and has continuously amended its laws to capture any offending sections

Taking into account that Tokyo is an influential international city that will be hosting upwards of ten million visitors for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in a few months, it is therefore important that the Tokyo Government act urgently to prevent any illegal trade in and export of elephant ivory products.

Japan’s large-scale trade in ivory undercuts laudable efforts being made by the organizing committees to make the 2020 Games’ more environmentally friendly pursuant to the sustainability theme, “Be better, together – For the planet and the people.” As the Games draw closer, Japan overall and Tokyo in particular, will be under increasing scrutiny from the global community. It is important that Tokyo takes a stand on this critical issue.

In 2016, governments agreed by consensus to a resolution under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to close domestic ivory markets contributing to illegal trade or poaching. Japan supported this but is yet to implement it in its national laws. Additionally, Japan was called upon by African governments to close its domestic ivory market during the 18th CITES Conference of the Parties in 2019.

In Japan, while the federal government has failed to meaningfully act, leading private sector retailers have chosen to withdraw from the trade, deciding to end the sale of ivory products in lieu of government action, notably with the international Olympics in mind. The Japanese government needs to follow suit and proffer government-level action for widespread impact.

We believe the most impactful way forward is to end the sale of elephant ivory products and respectfully propose prohibition of sale and purchase of ivory, closure of Japan’s domestic market and an urgent declaration on being an ivory free international city before the start of the Olympics while elevating law enforcement in stopping illegal trade during the 2021 games.


For more information, please contact:

Victoria Wangui – WildlifeDirect, Communications Assistant

Email:  +254 (0) 715 845 128


About WildlifeDirect:

WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan based conservation organization that has transformed anti-poaching results in Kenya through the award-winning conservation campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” and the production of Africa wildlife documentaries.  The vision of WildlifeDirect is changing hearts and minds and laws to ensure that Africa’s wildlife endure forever. WildlifeDirect produces wildlife documentary series’ as part of its mission to connect Kenyans to their wildlife and nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to conserve it.