New York Mayor & Presidential Candidate Bill De Blasio Urges Japan To Ban Ivory Sales Prior To The 2020 Summer Games In Tokyo

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is among a growing group of world leaders and elected officials that are urging Japan to ban all ivory sales in advance of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

“Sustainability is a key theme of next year’s games as reflected in the guiding principle: ‘Be better together – for the planet and the people,’” Mayor de Blasio said in a letter sent to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike earlier this month. “With millions of people traveling to Tokyo, many from countries with strict ivory regulations, tourists and participants may unknowingly participate in the illegal ivory trade by bringing home souvenirs that violate their local laws, causing undue distress and tarnishing their Olympic experience.”

New York City and Tokyo have shared close economic and cultural ties over the last few decades. New York state is one of nine U.S. states that prohibits the sale of ivory products, as well as hosted two high-profile events that have destroyed seized illegal ivory; one in Times Square in 2015 and another in Central Park in 2017.

Sadly, in contrast, after China banned ivory in 2018, Japan became the world’s largest legal ivory market.

“Japan’s ivory trade stimulates demand and undercuts domestic ivory bans in the United States, China and elsewhere,” Amy Zets Croke, senior policy analyst at the Environmental Investigation Agency, said in a statement. “To demonstrate real commitment to protecting Africa’s elephants, Japan must close its domestic ivory market before hosting millions of athletes and spectators from around the world during the 2020 Tokyo Games.”

The Humane Society International agrees, noting that the 2020 Summer Games present a critical opportunity for Japan to show itself as a responsible and reputable leader in the world.

As per the organization, Japan has more than 16,000 registered ivory retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers; with a market that facilitates transnational ivory trafficking and undermines the enforcement efforts of neighboring China.

In addition to the letter by Mayor de Blasio on May 7th, 37 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama requesting that the government of Japan join the growing effort to close domestic ivory markets worldwide in order to conserve dwindling elephant populations.

Many countries and jurisdictions have announced or implemented measures prohibiting or restricting domestic ivory trade, such as: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, China, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.

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