Well, maybe I jumped the gun too soon. It seems that, according to my local pet store owner, many of these turtle "fishing" games at the festivals are illegal and operate without a license...
Not only that, the Japan Times reports this morning:
Japan is a major importer of rare plants and animals whose international trade is restricted under a convention on endangered species, according to a new report. The report, prepared by Traffic East Asia-Japan, a group that monitors wildlife trade, was released last week in conjunction with the COP10 international conference on biological diversity being held in Nagoya. Titled "State of Wildlife Trade in Japan," the report says Japan was the world's No. 2 importer of living tortoises and birds, and No. 3 in importing orchids in 2007.
Read more here.