Defying international pressure, Japan has stopped short of deciding to shut down its market for elephant ivory, traditionally used to carve hanko (personal seals). Instead it is promising to put trade on a tighter leash.

It will oppose a resolution jointly submitted by the United States and other nations urging member nations to outlaw trade in ivory, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg from Saturday, Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said Tuesday.

"Trade of wild fauna and flora that doesn't endanger its species can help preserve the species and develop the local society," Yamamoto said. "Japan is in a different position from other countries."