Fresh start for fish mar­ket

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE -

THE WORLD’S largest fish mar­ket re­sumed op­er­a­tions at a new lo­ca­tion in Tokyo yes­ter­day, af­ter fi­nal auc­tions last week at the pre­vi­ous fa­cil­ity in Tsuk­iji, one of the top tourist at­trac­tions in the Ja­panese cap­i­tal.

The long-de­layed open­ing of the gleam­ing new $5 bil­lion (R73bn) Toyosu mar­ket on re­claimed land was marked by a mi­nor truck fire and an early morn­ing traf­fic jam.

As its first tuna auc­tion kicked off at 5.30am, the 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. “To­gether, we would like to de­velop this as the core mar­ket of Tokyo, and Ja­pan, and make the Toyosu brand bet­ter day by day.”

The 83-year-old Tsuk­iji mar­ket drew tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors each year to a war­ren of stalls laden with ex­otic species of fish and fresh sushi in a tourism boom key to 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 seller of blue tuna, 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% of Tsuk­iji fish traders op­pose the move, a sur­vey by a group fight­ing the re­lo­ca­tion showed.

Al­though de­mo­li­tion work started at Tsuk­iji on Thurs­day, a group of fish­mon­gers protest­ing against the move forced its way back in.

In 2016, toxic sub­stances were found in soil and ground­wa­ter at Toyosu, the former home of a gas plant, prompt­ing Tokyo to spend an ex­tra ¥3.8 bil­lion (R495m) to dig hun­dreds of wells to pump out ground­wa­ter.

In July, Koike de­clared the site safe af­ter ex­perts signed off on ad­di­tional clean-up mea­sures, but some traders re­main scep­ti­cal.

A rat in­fes­ta­tion was an­other prob­lem at Tsuk­iji, of­ten dubbed the “kitchen of Ja­pan”. Tokyo au­thor­i­ties have set aside ¥35 mil­lion for ex­ter­mi­na­tion in the year be­gin­ning in April to al­lay the fears of nearby res­i­dents that de­mo­li­tion could spread the ro­dent me­nace.

Nearly 1 800 rats were killed in the past six months us­ing de­vices such as mouse­traps and ad­he­sive sheets, one of­fi­cial said, adding that it was im­pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate the size of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

The old site will pro­vide park­ing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics be­fore be­com­ing a tourist cen­tre. | Reuters

| Reuters

TUNA meat at a whole­salers’ area on the open­ing day of the new Toyosu fish mar­ket, which has been re­lo­cated from Tsuk­iji mar­ket in Tokyo.

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