In pet stores in Japan, you can see a wide range of turtles, snakes, insects, ferrets, iguanas and monkeys. From time to time you can see squirrels, chipmunks and emus. Japan imports more than one million animals – excluding small animals, fish and insects – with rodents accounting for 30-40% of the total and reptiles accounting for 50-60% of the total. Awareness of the top five risks associated with exotic animals was low. A staggering 68% said they knew little or nothing about their potential to spread infectious diseases, animal welfare, the impact on the endangered status of many species, the illegality of trade and the risks associated with invasive species. Many wild animals sold illegally end up in Japan as well as in the United States and Germany. Individual lizards and other protected reptiles are sometimes sent from Australia to Japan, where they are sold on the black market for up to $5,000. Rare radiated turtles and kattas from Madagascar have been stolen from research centers and petting zoos in Japan and offered for sale in pet stores in the illegal animal market. As a professional importer who loves animals, Mr. Tanaka (not his real name) is concerned that smugglers and pet stores that work illegally are giving his profession a bad reputation and endangering customers and animals. He fears that people will buy animals trapped in the wild, unhealthy and unsterilized.
Unconsciously and unprepared, buyers receive much more than they expected, including illegal animals, diseases, and hormonal time bombs designed to explode with maturity. According to the import regulations for exotic animals in Japan, this is not very difficult. They just need proof that they were raised. Or that they were legally relocated from the country they came from. You must obtain a health certificate, export permit and permit from CITES, all from the exporting country, manage customs and obtain import authorization. TRAFFIC has led the implementation of several behaviour change initiatives aimed at reducing demand for illegal wildlife products, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and rosewood. TRAFFIC is also involved in many international initiatives and forums and leads the Community of Practice for Social and Behavioural Change (www.changewildlifeconsumers.org). TRAFFIC is working with WWF on the initiative to combat consumer demand for exotic pets in Japan.
Japan is one of the world`s largest markets for exotic animals and the pioneer of exotic pet cafes that are spreading throughout Asia. A striking example is the recent increase in demand for otters. A 2018 survey by TRAFFIC found that the small-clawed otter Aonyx cinereus has quickly gained popularity in Japan due to mass media and social media attention since about 2012. This has led to a rapid expansion of otter cafes and the sale of otters to keep as private animals, which has been shown to boost the illegal otter trade from Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. There are illegal auctions of wild birds such as white-eyed, Japanese warblers, and blue and white flycatchers captured in Japan. Most birds are caught in forests with fog nets suspended by poachers between trees. Birds are often bought by bird lovers who appreciate them for their songs. In some cases, poachers receive ¥1,500 for a bird purchased as part of a promotion for ¥3,000 and ultimately sold to a bird breeder for ¥10,000. Partly because of this illegal trade, the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) decided in 2019 to include the Small-clawed Viper from Appendix II to Appendix I in order to ban all international trade.
In Japan, there is concern that imported pets, both legal and illegal, could cause diseases or pests that can affect people, animals and agriculture. One study found that 12 types of imported animals carried leptospira, a disease that causes fever, jaundice, blood in the urine and inflammation of the kidneys. Many animals in America wear Giardia. Some in Asia carry salmonella. Well, of course you should! They don`t want customs officers to see you as an animal smuggler. There can be a lot of problems if they think you`re doing something illegal. First, they can take your pet away from you. Then you can pay a fine. Or, even worse, go to jail.
So you don`t want to take risks. Good websites and sources: Japan and the International Wildlife Trade (2001) forests.org/archive/asia; Stage members.jcom.home.ne.jp beetle; Japanese beetle asahi-net.or.jp; Kids Web Japan on Stage Beetles web-japan.org/kidsweb/archives/cool; insect smuggling Thefreelibrary.com; Mushi King — King of the mushiking.com beetles; The cockfighting robot walyou.com/blog the snake`s owner told the Daily Yomiuri: “Snakes are easy to keep in apartments because they are much quieter than cats or dogs, he said he fed his snakes with frozen mice and likes to watch TV while his snakes are wrapped around his arm.