Executive Summary

This report, 'What Lies Beneath', Exposing the loopholes within Japan’s control of internal ivory trade, brings out the flaws within the Japanese Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora(LCES), its associated databases and, how smuggling syndicates have exploited it to get away from being penalized.
Through a case of illegally trading of Ivory by one renowned Ivory manufacturing dealer, the report captures the intrinsic danger that such a weak law will bring in at a time of rampant illegal trade of Ivory. This report was prepared through an extensive survey and data collection process from the various ministries in Japan and also through several court hearings on the Takaichi case.

Is Japan one of final destinations of illegal ivory?
By observing official seizure of ivory at the Customs of Japan, it cannot be concluded that the number of cases and the amount of ivory seizures are high at this moment.
However, on the other hand, “Takaichi Case” revealed that the biggest and most influential ivory dealer in Japan had bought up ivory tusks sourced from unknown origin. It means that Japan’s ivory businesses have tried to obtain considerable amount of ivory tusks ignoring the law. This also proves that there could be several other unreported cases of internal illegal trading in Japan and some of which might have already been through since the last import of legal ivory into Japan in 2009.
Due to high market demand, high quantity of illegal ivory are destined to China. But, it is possible that certain part of those ivory may alter their course to Japan if some situation changes in China, like recession influencing market price.

Level of demand for ivory in Japan
Raw ivory
The official stock of registered whole tusks has been increasing after 1995 -1996 (81 tonnes) when the registration system launched, and it reached to 122 tonnes (total of (B)-(D) by the end of 2010. The official stock of cut pieces reached to 60.8 tonnes by the end of 2010.

Ivory hankos
The number of hankos or name seal stamp stocked by all dealers is around 750,000 or above from 2007 to 2010. The demand for ivory hankos is still remains substantial in Japan.

Takaichi Case
On May 11, 2011, KT, a former chairman of Takaichi, Inc. and a former chairman of the Japan Federation of Ivory Arts and Crafts Association was arrested on suspicion of buying unregistered ivory whole tusks. He is the biggest and the most influential Japanese ivory trader since 1970s and has affected the legislation process for control of internal ivory trade.
The police confiscated a total of 58 unregistered ivory tusks (509.45kg) amounting JPY 19,572,716 (US$ 244,658) traded between Takaichi and five sources.
Furthermore, the investigation and the court trial revealed that Takaichi had purchased huge number of unregistered ivory whole tusks between 2005 and 2010.

Effect of Takaichi Case:
How large amount of ivory tusk sourced from unknown origin had been flown in Japanese market?

It is estimated that 572 -1,622 unregistered whole tusks weighed 5,580 -15,770kg which had been consumed for hankos production by Takaichi between 2005 and 2010 correspond to 31 -87% in number and 24 -68% in weight of the registered whole tusks as of 1,871 in number and 23,093kg in weight consumed in same period for the same purpose.

Does Japan’s control of internal ivory trade comply with all the requirements on Resolution Conf.10.10 (Rev. COP15)?
Problems of Japan’s legislation and controls are serious as follows and do not fulfill all the requirements of CITES Resolution Conf.10.10 (Rev.15).

  • Individuals or companies engaged in business dealing ivory are only obliged to notify certain information concerning their ivory business, not "registered" or "licensed". Because of this, even though a dealer violated the law, the dealer's business cannot be cancelled by the authority unlike the case of "registration" or "license" found in other Japanese laws.
  • Possessors of ivory whole tusks may not transfer them without registration while the registration is voluntary as long as they take possession of them. There is no compulsory system to record raw ivory stock possessed in Japan. Thereby, ivory stock with unknown sources has become the breeding ground for illegal trade.
  • Volume of transaction both products’ name wise and purchase-sales wise have not been entered into the database managing internal trade in ivory cut pieces and products. Additionally, any data on trade in ivory whole tusks has not been entered into the above database because those data are separately managed by different agencies. In consequence, the following matters are impossible to be monitored at all.
  • ・ Use of unregistered whole tusk
    ・ Situation of trade in cut pieces and stocks of products

    Thus, it shall be recommended that;
    In order to eliminate smuggled ivory from Japanese ivory market completely, Japanese government shall improve the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (LCES) and the relevant Orders and, management and law enforcement regarding internal trade control of ivory in accordance with all the requirements prescribed in “Regarding control of internal ivory trade” of Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev.CoP15)