• Kyodo

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has decided to move the famous Tsukiji fish market to the Toyosu waterfront district in Koto Ward after additional safety measures are taken to ease pollution concerns, sources familiar with the matter said.

Koike is expected to announce the decision early this week, the sources said Saturday.

Koike met with people working at the Tsukiji wholesale fish and vegetable market Saturday to get their opinions on the stalled relocation project.

Koike apologized for the delay in addressing the pollution revelations at Toyosu that surfaced just after she took office.

The meeting came after she received a report Tuesday from a metropolitan government-appointed task force that made proposals centering on making use of both sites.

“We need the wisdom of all of you to decide how to save, sustain and further develop the Tsukiji market, which is Tokyo’s treasure,” she said at the start of the gathering.

The metro government had planned to sell off the Tsukiji site in Chuo Ward to repay the debt issued to finance construction of the new site at Toyosu. The task force’s proposals included converting the aging Tsukiji market, famous for its daily fish auctions, into a different sort of commercial facility.

Koike, who said upon receiving the proposals that she wants to make the most of Tsukiji’s name recognition, will likely make a decision before campaigning starts Friday for the July 2 metropolitan assembly election. Tsukiji’s relocation is expected to be one of the major issues.

But the decision will remain controversial because the merchants are sharply at odds over whether to relocate. At Saturday’s meeting, which was attended by about 100 Tsukiji workers, some people voiced opposition to the move because of safety concerns. Others maintained that relocation shouldn’t be postponed any longer because Tsukiji’s facilities are getting too old to use.

After becoming Tokyo’s first female governor last August, Koike put the relocation plan for the wholesale food market on hold after being told that the pollution control measures promised to the public over a decade ago had been skipped and that the former gas plant site was rife with carcinogens.

The relocation had been originally scheduled for last November.

Illegal amounts of toxic chemicals crop up regularly in environmental tests, including benzene concentrations up to 100 times the safety limit in March and April.

Earlier this month, members of a Tokyo Metropolitan Government panel proposed that the floors of the concrete basements in Toyosu’s main facilities be covered by special sheets and more concrete, and that ventilation fans be installed to prevent toxic substances in the soil from seeping into the buildings and the air. In the original relocation plan, a thick layer of clean soil was supposed to be inserted under the main buildings for the same reason, but never materialized.

The new proposal also calls for improving the water control system and continually monitoring harmful substances in groundwater at 46 spots at the site, which used to host a gas plant.

The latest measures are estimated to cost between ¥3.5 billion and ¥8 billion, the panel said.

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