Seafood seen again

Re­lo­cated fish mar­ket sees first auc­tion in Tokyo

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE -

TOKYO — The world’s largest fish mar­ket re­sumed op­er­a­tions at a new lo­ca­tion in Tokyo on Thurs­day af­ter fi­nal auc­tions last week at the pre­vi­ous fa­cil­ity in Tsuk­iji, one of the Ja­panese cap­i­tal’s top tourist at­trac­tions.

The long-de­layed open­ing of the gleam­ing new $5 bil­lion Toyosu mar­ket on re­claimed land was marked by a mi­nor truck fire and an early morn­ing traf­fic jam.

As the new mar­ket’s first auc­tion kicked off at 5:30 am, its halls filled with the sound of bells and the shouts of traders, who also used hand sig­nals in the scram­ble to get the day’s best pro­duce.

“It might take some time to get used to,” Tokyo Gover­nor Yuriko Koike said at the site. “To­gether, we would like to de­velop this as the core mar­ket of Tokyo, and Ja­pan, and make the Toyosu brand bet­ter day by day.”

Kiyoshi Kimura, one of the celebri­ties of the sushi world, owns the Sushi Zan­mai chain and has pre­vi­ously paid record prices for tuna at New Year auc­tions.

“We won’t get the same prices to­day,” he said with a smile be­fore bid­ding be­gan in an auc­tion that didn’t set any records.

The 83-year-old Tsuk­iji mar­ket had at­tracted tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors each year to its war­ren of stalls laden with ex­otic species of fish and fresh sushi in a tourism boom key to Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s eco­nomic plan.

But it had be­come di­lap­i­dated and un­san­i­tary, city of­fi­cials have said in plan­ning the move to Toyosu, fur­ther away from cen­tral Tokyo, a re­lo­ca­tion de­layed many times since it was con­ceived 17 years ago.

Kimio Amano, a 45-year-old blue tuna seller, said he was con­cerned about the lo­ca­tion.

“There are some cus­tomers who said they are not com­ing any longer be­cause it is too far,” said Amano. “Let’s see what hap­pens.”

More than 80 per­cent of Tsuk­iji fish traders op­pose the move, a sur­vey by a group fight­ing the re­lo­ca­tion showed.

De­mo­li­tion work was due to start on Thurs­day at Tsuk­iji, but a group of fish­mon­gers protest­ing the move to Toyosu forced their way back in.

In 2016, toxic sub­stances were found in soil and ground­wa­ter at Toyosu, once home to a gas plant, prompt­ing Tokyo to spend an ex­tra 3.8 bil­lion yen ($34 mil­lion) to dig hun­dreds of wells to pump out ground­wa­ter.

In July, Koike de­clared the site safe af­ter ex­perts signed off on ad­di­tional cleanup mea­sures, but some traders re­main skep­ti­cal.

The old site will pro­vide tem­po­rary park­ing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics be­fore be­com­ing a tourist cen­ter.


An auc­tion­eer ges­tures dur­ing a tuna auc­tion on the open­ing day of the new Toyosu fish mar­ket in Tokyo on Thurs­day.

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