Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa announced on Feb. 2 that in response to strong international criticism of domestic ivory trade in Japan, the Environment Ministry plans to tighten rules on issuing certification of legal acquisition of elephant tusks from the summer of 2019. “Third person testimonies,” which currently serve as the basis of registration in over 90% of cases, will no longer be honored.
From this spring, the ministry will also assign one devoted official each to the Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, and Kyushu regional environment offices to prosecute illegal trade.
Although personal seals and other ivory products are not required to be registered, the Environment Ministry reckons that tougher regulations on whole elephant tusks will be more effective in preventing illegal trade in ivory, and this will mitigate criticism against the domestic ivory market. (Abridged)