New Tokyo governor postpones plan to move iconic Tsukiji fish market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 4:56pm

A newly elected leader of Tokyo has postponed a plan to relocate the world’s biggest fish market, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Governor Yuriko Koike announced on Wednesday that she would decide on a date only after an environmental assessment of the new site is completed in January. The move had been scheduled to take place in early November.

Documentary to preserve Tokyo's famed Tsukiji before the fish market's relocation

The current Tsukiji fish market is to be moved to the site of a former gas plant in Toyosu, a reclaimed area in Tokyo Bay, raising concerns about soil contamination.

“It is a market that handles fresh food and seafood,” Koike, a former environment minister in the national government, said at a news conference. “The perspective of consumers about food safety is valuable, and I believe that citizens come first.”

She acknowledged concern that the postponement could delay construction of a new road for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that would pass through part of the current market. But she said food safety cannot be compromised.

Final New Year auction for 80-year-old Tokyo fish market

The new governor also questioned the relocation cost of 580 billion yen (US$5.7 billion). Construction costs alone have nearly tripled from the original estimate to 275 billion yen (US$2.7 billion).

Koike was elected one month ago after her predecessor resigned over allegations of misuse of political funds and lavish international business trips at taxpayer expense. She is the first woman to lead Japan’s capital and largest city.