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Yahoo Japan to end ivory sales after evidence emerged of smuggling to China

TOKYO — Japan’s biggest e-commerce platform said Wednesday that it would ban the sale of ivory, joining other competitors and putting renewed pressure on the Japanese government to ban the trade in what is now the world’s largest legal ivory market.

Yahoo Japan said it had made the decision after confirming multiple reports that ivory bought on its online auction site was ‘‘smuggled abroad and detected by foreign customs authorities,’’ in contravention of international rules banning cross-border trade.

The company, which is no longer affiliated to Yahoo in the United States, said the decision came after consultations with TRAFFIC, a group that monitors illegal wildlife trade, and its sister organization, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

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Press officer Yoshinari Kaji said ivory had been sent to China and detected by customs authorities there.

‘‘The company’s decision to ban all ivory from its platforms takes full consideration of the elevated risks in continuing such a practice,’’ said Ryuji Tsutsui, CEO of WWF
Japan.

After China banned the ivory trade at the end of 2017, Japan became the largest legal market for ivory, driven by demand for hankos, the small stamps Japanese people use in place of signatures for anything from opening a bank account to signing an employment contract.

A TRAFFIC study released in 2018 identified Yahoo Japan as the single biggest online platform for elephant ivory sales in Japan.

washington post