The Tsukiji fish market as seen from Shiodome. (Photo: Chris 73/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Tsukiji fish market relocation postponed
Thursday, September 01, 2016, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
The famed Tsukiji fish market relocation scheduled for November has been postponed due to concerns over soil contamination at the new Toyosu site.
The decision was taken by Tokyo new governor Yuriko Koike, who clarified groundwater test results are to be released in January, Kyodo News reported.
The initial plan was that the famous market in Chuo Ward would close its doors on November 2 and re-open on November 7 at the new multistory site standing on 400,000 sq. metres of land in Toyosu on Tokyo Bay.
This project proved unsatisfactory to many fish merchants in Tsukiji, in particular tuna wholesale businesses, over concerns about soil pollution at the Toyosu site and shortcomings in the planned alternative facilities.
The pollution problem emerged in 2001 when Tokyo Gas Co., which operated a gas plant at the site from 1956 to 1988, revealed that the soil contained high levels of toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, cyanogen and benzene.
However, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government claimed the new site poses no health issues either for Tsukiji workers or fish consumers.
Referring to this statement, a group of wholesalers, workers and consumer representatives alleged the metropolitan government “deliberately hid information about ground contamination to speed up construction at the new site.”
This group, called Tsukiji wo Mamore (Protect Tsukiji), also pointed out that the allocated stall spaces for many fish merchants in Toyosu are too small to cut huge fish like tuna, and that the new market lacks room for transport trucks.
For his part, Eiji Ikuine, president of the Tsukiji-based fish dealer Eikoh-Suisan, said poor communications between the metropolitan government, construction firms and merchants in Tsukiji in the early planning stages resulted in the current situation.
Koike’s postponement decision could have further consequences such as the delay in the construction of a highway connecting the central area of Tokyo to the proposed athletes village for the 2020 Summer Olympics and businesses preparing for the relocation date could have compensation claims.
Therefore, Hiroyasu Ito, chairman of the Tsukiji Market Association, demanded that the relocation to the Toyosu district be implemented as scheduled.
“If the opening is delayed, we will be forced to reconsider our plans concerning the relocation in our busy period, including the year-end and New Year holidays.” Ito concluded.