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Japan a weak link in international ivory trade ban

Domestically available items are smuggled to China, where demand is strong

Officers at a police station in Gifu Prefecture on May 21 examine an elephant tusk that was confiscated after being traded illegally via a flea market app.    © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japan is under mounting criticism that its domestic market for ivory products is creating a weak link in the international ban. Many ivory smugglers purchase products in Japan, where domestic trade is legal, and smuggle them to China, where demand is high.  

The Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization, in August conducted a secret investigation of several shops in Tokyo that deal in ivory materials for making personal stamps. Its findings appear to support the critics.  

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