Tsukiji to relocate to Toyosu: Ishihara

DPJ ranks vow to block budget for shift to toxic site

by Takahiro Fukada

The metropolitan government will spend ¥128.1 billion this fiscal year to relocate the Tsukiji fish market to the Toyosu district in Koto Ward, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday.

His announcement drew an immediate outcry from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which holds a majority in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and opposes the move to a site deemed highly toxic. The DPJ also threatened to block the budget for the move.

“I have decided to go with relocating Tsukiji market to Toyosu based on the deliberations of the assembly,” Ishihara told reporters. “I will now make full efforts to relocate (the market) to Toyosu.”

Ishihara said relocation would be quicker than rebuilding at the current site, as the DPJ wants. “Although the assembly has been reconsidering since April a plan to rebuild at the current location, it ended up finding it would take more than 10 years even if everything goes smoothly,” he said.

The assembly’s deliberations have gone nowhere and it has continuously postponed a conclusion, Ishihara said, adding, “If the assembly finds it hard to make a decision, the governor will have to make it.”

Ishihara also said the market is so old that ceiling sections would collapse in a minor earthquake. It is also far from being sanitary, he noted, adding, “The new market should be operated safely and cleanly with new functions.”

The metro government said it wants to move the market from Chuo Ward to Koto Ward by the end of fiscal 2014, but noted the relocation site is contaminated with higher than acceptable levels of carcinogens and other toxins. However, Ishihara said the metro government will utilize “the wisdom of our nation’s leading scholars” to sanitize the land at the site.

The DPJ in March effectively froze the relocation budget for the current fiscal year and is instead calling for the market to be rebuilt at the current site.

Noboru Osawa, secretary general of the DPJ’s metro assembly chapter, condemned Ishihara’s latest announcement and hinted the party may oppose next fiscal year’s budget.

“I am very angry with what Gov. Ishihara said,” Osawa said in a statement. “If Gov. Ishihara is forcibly proceeding with the relocation to Toyosu by spending money for acquiring the land in line with his latest statement, I declare that we will inevitably have to take a tough stance on the relevant bills” to be submitted by the metro government to the assembly, he said.