National / Politics

Tokyo prepping ¥9 billion in compensation for Tsukiji relocation delay: source

Kyodo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is arranging an extra spending measure of around ¥9 billion ($79.43 million) to compensate businesses for losses stemming from the postponed relocation of the Tsukiji fish market, a source close to the matter said.

More spending may also be necessary in coming years because it remains unclear when the market will move to its new site in the Toyosu area, given the recent discovery of high-level toxins in the groundwater there.

Fish, fruit and vegetable businesses that prepared to move to Toyosu have collectively invested about ¥30 billion in new equipment and other items, according to the metropolitan government.

The ¥9 billion spending measure is being envisioned for the new fiscal year starting in April. The amount was calculated based on losses the businesses are estimated to have incurred over a 17-month period from last November through March, the source said Thursday.

The metro government has separately proposed ¥1.8 billion in a budget for fiscal 2017 to provide “bridge loans” to businesses at the Tsukiji market.

The wholesale market, known for its daily fish auctions, was scheduled to relocate to the nearby Toyosu area on Nov. 7, but newly elected Gov. Yuriko Koike postponed the move in August after discovering soil and air pollution at the new site that taxpayers had been told would be cleaned up ahead of the move.

The Toyosu site was formerly the site of a gas production plant. Toxins left in the soil had been a known issue for years, and the metropolitan government under then-Gov. Shintaro Ishihara had promised to clean it up.

But a recent groundwater survey at the site showed benzene 79 times the safety limit along with other toxic chemicals, prompting the metropolitan government to order an additional groundwater survey.