Wildlife trafficking penalties to soar

JIJI

The Environment Ministry plans to raise the maximum fine for trafficking of endangered species by companies to ¥100 million from the current ¥1 million, ministry officials said Wednesday.

The penalty will be raised for the first time since the law on the conservation of endangered species took effect in 1993 to prevent illicit trading of wild animals and plants in danger of extinction.

The ministry will submit a bill to revise the law to the Diet during the current legislative session.

The maximum penalty for trafficking by individuals will be raised from one year in prison or a fine of ¥1 million to five years behind bars or a fine of ¥5 million.

The current fines are deemed too small to have a deterrent effect, in view of the vast profits that can be generated through trafficking of rare species, the officials said. In one case, two tortoises were sold for ¥7 million.

The ministry will also introduce a ban on advertisement for the sale of threatened wildlife.

Corporate violators will be slapped with a maximum fine of ¥20 million. Individuals will face a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to ¥1 million.