Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online market, has been criticized strongly by an environmental campaign group on Tuesday, saying that the Japanese selling website is one of the biggest sources globally for elephant ivory and whale meat products. The UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Humane Society International is calling on the Japanese online retailer to stop selling these products on their website.
The EIA said that if you query Rakuten’s website for the search term “ivory”, the search results would yield more than 28,000 ads for elephant ivory products. Also, a website search done in June 2013 for the search term “whale” resulted in more than 1,200 food products. According to the EIA, many of these whale meat products originated from protected species. EIA President Allan Thornton said that selling these products on their website are “effectively as deadly as giving bullets to elephant poachers and harpoons to whalers”. Thornton encouraged Rakuten to “act immediately and ban all ads selling elephant and whale products” if it doesn’t want its global reputation to be “irrevocably tainted with the ongoing mass slaughter of these species.”
“We call on Rakuten subsidiaries in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere to urgently press Rakuten headquarters in Japan to ban all ads offering ivory and whale products,” said Kitty Block, vice-president of HSI. The Japanese online retailer, owned by Hiroshi Mikitani, has been expanding its international presence in recent years. Lately it has acquired the US-based Buy.com – now called Rakuten Shopping –and Play.com in the UK. Rakuten also owns Canadian e-book outfit Kobo and is a major shareholder in Pinterest.
[via The Guardian]