Yoh Daikan of Yomiuri Giants urges Japanese public to join global effort to save elephants

Humane Society International

TOKYO—Baseball player and animal lover Yoh Daikan and global animal protection group Humane Society International have come together to call on the Japanese public to protect elephants from the poaching and ivory trafficking epidemic. Yoh, an outfielder with the Yomiuri Giants, one of the traditional professional baseball teams, stars in HSI’s new Japanese language video campaign and is Japan’s first celebrity to speak out for elephants. A similar video in Mandarin Chinese starring Yoh will be broadcast in Taiwan as well.

View Yoh’s video here: www.hsi.org/Yoh

Yoh said, “Elephants are the gentle giants of the Savannahs and forests of Africa and Asia. Yet every year, tens of thousands die at the hands of poachers and their ivory is traded illegally. I was deeply saddened to learn that by the time my young daughter grows up, elephants may no longer exist in the wild. I am humbled to lend my voice to save these amazing creatures.”

Continued demand for elephant ivory provides a ready marketplace for trafficked ivory obtained from poached elephants, which in turn undermines global efforts to save the species from extinction. Recognizing the urgent need for Japan to reduce ivory consumption and to combat the illegal trade in elephant ivory, several prominent Japanese e-commerce companies and retail outlets have prohibited elephant ivory products sales, including Rakuten Ichiba, AEON and Mercari.

Adam Peyman, wildlife program manager at Humane Society International, said, “As the host of the Olympics in 2020, Japan will be in the international spotlight for its ivory consumption and its role in ivory trafficking. We are hopeful that the Japanese government will continue to combat ivory trafficking. We believe that once Japanese citizens become aware of the cruelty behind ivory products, they will change their purchasing behavior. We can’t afford to waste any time in this fight to protect elephants from poaching and the threat of extinction.”

Fast facts:

  • The Great Elephant Census found that between 2007 and 2014, poachers were primarily responsible for the killing of 144,000 elephants due to supply the illegal ivory trade. African Savanna elephant populations experienced a 30 percent decline during this time, with only approximately 352,271 elephants remaining in the surveyed countries.
  • The Japan Ministry of the Environment released a report last November stating that between 2011 and 2016, there were more than 100 cases in which customs officials in China seized ivory exported from Japan.
  • A 2016 study found that 80 percent of newly manufactured ivory products are hanko or traditional Japanese signature stamps.
  • The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17), of which Japan is a party, recommends closure of domestic ivory markets as a matter of urgency where it contributes to poaching or illegal trade. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in September 2017, of which Japan was a co-sponsor, calling upon Member States to ensure that their legal domestic markets are not used to mask the trade in illegal wildlife products and to implement the CITES decision on closure of domestic ivory markets.
  • In 2015, then U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping made a joint pledge to close the domestic ivory markets in their respective countries. A U.S. federal near-total ban took effect since July 2016. China instituted a ban on domestic ivory sales beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The Hong Kong legislature has also enacted an ivory sale ban that will take effect in 2021. The government of Taiwan has suggested that it will close domestic ivory markets starting January 1, 2020. The European Commission and the United Kingdom are deliberating a ban on ivory sales in their jurisdictions after a public consultation process soliciting input from the public last December. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, has repeatedly called for bans on the ivory trade.
  • A report released in December 2017 estimated that between 2011 and 2016, a total of 2.42 tons of ivory were seized as illegal exports from Japan, most of them destined for China. The same report also identified that an equivalent of 10 tons of ivory tusks were being newly registered in a Japanese government system that regulates domestic sale of ivory every year, despite a global ivory trade ban; the origin of this ivory remains unclear.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423

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