It may seem hard to believe, considering Japan’s record of whale hunting and mass dolphin slaughters, but it appears as if they’ve decided to take the hardline against those participating in the illegal trade of items associated with endangered animals. A new law dictates that existing fines shall be increased a hundredfold for those that seek to make their profit by destroying these rare creatures.
Japan’s Environmental Ministry has raised the maximum allowable fine against corporations taking part in the trade of endangered species items. The old fine was a paltry one million yen (about $10,000 USD) but the new fine will get up to 100 million yen (around 1 million USD). That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change, even to a corporation. The law is a little different for those not connected to corporations, however. For the individual illegal trader, the fines will range from 1 to 5 million yen. Much less, to be sure, but enough to discourage your typical Ebay seller.
Truly though, the old fines were pretty weak when compared with some other countries. Not to mention that many of the items being traded can fetch tens-of-thousands or even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. It’s also nice to see them targeting corporate traders primarily, as this prevents those with big dollars and big influence from just choosing to ignore the laws because they can afford to pay whatever fines are involved.
The irony here is, of course, that Japan is one of the biggest problemed areas when it comes to people trading freely in illegal endangered animal items online. In many respects, people continue to do so to this day. They have one of the worst records when it comes to this practice. It’s good to see them taking the steps to make this change and hopefully we will see more such changes out of the island country in the future.