Wholesalers’ board signs off on Tsukiji move date

Published on
November 27, 2017

The board of directors of the Wholesale Co-Operative of Tokyo Fish Market has approved the Tokyo metropolitan government’s schedule for the relocation of the central wholesale market from Tsukiji to the new Toyosu site. The shift is scheduled to be carried out in September or October of 2018, with the most likely opening day 11 October, following a three-day weekend. 

In agreeing to the move, the board may be out of step with its 540 member firms, most of which are believed to oppose it. Members of a women’s group for market wholesalers, “Tsukiji okami-san kai,” surveyed members in March and announced that over 70 percent of intermediate wholesalers at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market wanted to scrap plans for the move. The Mainichi Newspaper reported that Yutaka Hayama, the head of the wholesale cooperative, plans to hold a meeting to gain the understanding of his group's members.

The Tsukiji market was originally scheduled to be moved to the newly built wholesale market in Toyosu last November, but new Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike halted the move and ordered new tests for pollutants. The new tests found higher levels of toxic chemicals in groundwater at the site, including benzene up to 100 times the government-set limit.

Since then, plans have been up in the air, causing high expenses for seafood companies that had already invested in facilities at the new site. Finally, to clear up the matter before a Tokyo Assembly election, Koike announced a compromise plan that would involve first moving to Toyosu, then rebuilding and re-opening Tsukiji—dividing the wholesaling activity between them. How exactly this would work is unclear, as the point of the auction is to bring all of the buyers and sellers together.

Additionally, an earlier promise to continue monitoring and remediating the groundwater pollution has gone by the wayside. The government’s new line is that people should just accept the pollution since it will not directly affect the food quality.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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