The relocation of the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, better known as the Tsukiji fish market, is causing concern among restaurants and other retailers operating there because they must cover their own moving costs.

The 230,000-sq.-meter fish market compound in Chuo Ward is the largest in the world, handling 1 million tons of marine products, fruit and vegetables a year, worth more than 600 billion yen. About 15,000 people work there every day.

But the compound has become too cramped and the facilities in the 70-year-old market have become old, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the owner of the market. The new location is in a larger area on reclaimed land at Toyosu wharf in Koto Ward, about 2 km southeast of Tsukiji.

Under the plan, the construction and relocation of the market will be completed by fiscal 2012 at the earliest. The new site, which will be about twice as big as the present one, will be equipped with information technology, including real-time systems for incoming goods and transaction prices.

President Hiroyuki Ito of Minokei Co., a distributor, said he is ready to move to the new location. “We can no longer afford to stick to the old ways of doing business.”

Ito took over the business his father started before the war and has been supplying high-class restaurants and sushi shops.

But not all of the 900-odd middlemen, restaurateurs and other retailers in the market are happy with the relocation.

For one thing, it is not easy for them to save money to pay for the move.

“I have to buy a new counter and refrigerator at the new place and so on and so forth,” one sushi shop owner said. “How can I pay millions of yen for them when I am just eking out a living?”

Many businesses also have a strong emotional attachment to the present market that harks back to the good old days of Tokyo.

It has been two years since the decision to relocate was made. But still, “antirelocation” posters can be seen hanging at various places in the market.

Even though the relocation means a drastic change for Tokyoites’ image of the bustling fish market, a metropolitan government official said, “Unless we establish a strong market, we cannot ensure stable supply.”

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