Cash-strapped Tsukiji fishmongers call for greater help with rent and relocation costs

Kyodo

Wholesalers at the Tsukiji fish market are calling on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for financial help to cover the costs of setting up business at a new market hall in Toyosu.

The fish market in Toyosu, which opens in November, will have a facility that lets wholesalers to store fish and other food products at low temperatures easily. But that freshness will come at a price — an up to 40 percent surge in their rent.

About 950 companies and businesses were registered at the Tsukiji fish market as of Dec. 1, according to city figures. Among them, 606 were fishery wholesalers — half of which were in the red in 2013.

The severe business environment means about 70 will have closed between March 2014 and November 2016, when the fish market reopens at its new site, according to Tokyo’s fish market wholesalers’ association.

To support their relocation, Tokyo is planning to shoulder part of the interest due on relocation funds borrowed from lenders. When wholesalers purchase energy-saving refrigerators, Tokyo will shoulder up to half of the cost.

But wholesalers say that is not enough. They argue Tokyo should shoulder the entire costs of relocation.

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe has expressed his willingness to provide further support, prompting the city to consider what it can do.