Japan's Diet or Parliament Building Photo © Kim Ahlström / Creative Commons 2.0

Japan's Diet or Parliament Building Photo © Kim Ahlström / Creative Commons 2.0


Published 9 June 2017


Japan tightens wildlife trade regulations

Tokyo, Japan, June 2017–Late last month, Japan’s Diet (Parliament) passed revised legislation tightening regulations on domestic wildlife trade, including those governing ivory trade.

Under the revised LCES[1] law, ivory trading businesses are now required to register their stock, rather than simply notifying relevant authorities. Information on such businesses will now also be publicly disclosed. 

The changes were among those previously recommended by TRAFFIC, aimed at strengthening regulatory provisions governing wildlife trade. The newly introduced measures should help deter illegal activity as any violation will now result in punitive measures such as the revocation of business privileges.

The revised bill also strengthens domestic trade in “International Endangered Species” (IES)—species listed in Appendix I of CITES[2]. Under LCES, trade in such species is permitted by holders of a registration card issued by the Minister of the Environment. However, the lack of expiry dates and marking requirements on the cards meant the system is open to abuse. With the recent changes, registration cards are only valid for a finite period of time for live animals. Additionally, certain species listed in LCES must now be uniquely marked for domestic trade control purposes.

TRAFFIC, alongside WWF Japan and other NGOs, has long considered that LCES should help protect endangered species not only within Japan but also abroad. 

TRAFFIC congratulates the Ministry of Environment for taking these measures to help Japan support the international efforts to protect endangered species from illegal and unsustainable trade. Despite these positive steps, however, there is still more work that needs to be done

Kay Wakao, Head of TRAFFIC’s Japan OfficeTRAFFIC believes further improvements to the legislation are warranted, specifically: 

  • Clarifying regulations concerning CITES Appendix I species native to Japan, such as the Asian Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and marine turtles. 
  • Tightening regulations on businesses dealing with live wild animals.
  • Expanding the scope of registration requirements for parts and processed products such as ivory cut pieces and introducing a compulsory certification system to ensure the legality and traceability of all processed wildlife products. 
  • Clarifying regulations concerning hybrid animals dealt with under CITES Resolution Conf. 10.17.
  • Modifying LCES to regulate all trade in readily recognizable parts of protected species, not just certain items—this would help close the gap between CITES and LCES legislation. 

“TRAFFIC stands by, ready to assist the Japanese government address illegal wildlife trade through improved regulation and law enforcement,” said Wakao.

The revised legislation is expected to come into force in 2018. 


1 Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
2 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Commercial international trade is not permitted in species listed in Appendix I of the Convention.