Tsukiji, world’s largest seafood market, scheduled to move

Global Business

Tokyo’s Tsukiji, the world’s largest seafood market, is once again scheduled to be relocated. The move has been postponed for months during testing of soil contaminant levels at the new fish market site located on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay.

Now the move is back on, at least for Tsukiji central market wholesalers. Buyers and sellers are resigned to the move, but have their reservations.

CGTN’s Steve Ross reports from Tokyo.

The world’s largest wholesale seafood market, Tsukiji, in operation for decades, is slated for the wrecking ball.

“We’re planning to utilize the site as a depot for the Olympics and a transport base. After that, we are thinking of turning it into a new market which will also function as a food theme park which will become a major base in promoting Tokyo,”  the Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said. 

The central operations of the fish market must move, in part, due to antiquated buildings that don’t meet current earthquake codes, with some structures containing asbestos.

A new, thoroughly modern building stands ready to house the seafood market at Toyosu, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. It’s the site of a former Tokyo Gas plant, and the location has been dogged by reports of groundwater contamination, including such chemicals as benzene and arsenic. Regardless of the contaminants’ levels, and despite Tokyo government assurances that the site will be rendered safe for operation, the controversy has been a blow to Tsukiji’s food purity image.

While the new Toyosu Market may offer safer conditions and greater operating space, Tsukiji regulars have mixed opinions about the move.

“Toyosu is not as crowded as here. Tourists and workers mix together here in Tsukiji. But in Toyosu, they’ll be separated. They have different areas for the tourists and the workers.The customers might decrease,” a supermarket buyer, Yamamoto said.

“My customers ask about Toyosu’s safety. Even though it’s safe, it’s very hard to erase this bad impression,” a chef, Aoyama said. 

The date for demolition of the inner market has not yet been announced, but if a transportation depot is to be ready for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics, it cannot be far off. Meantime, Tsukiji workers worry about the new site’s reputation.

“I believe that none of the foreign companies will trade if this market moves to Toyosu,” a Tuna Seller, Seihiro said. 

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