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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Friday decided to proceed with the relocation of the famed Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu as early as next spring but retracted a decision to cleanse the toxic water beneath the new site to safe levels before it reopens.

In another major decision, it also said the Metropolitan Expressway in Nihonbashi would be moved underground.

The timing of the Tsukiji move may hinge on the businesses there, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said when asked if it could open in May.

“I think it is physically possible, but in reality without the cooperation of wholesalers we cannot proceed with the plan,” Koike told a news conference at City Hall.

She said the metropolitan government will speed up the enactment of an extra budget for additional pollution control measures and focus on speeding up procedures to move the market at the earliest possible date.

In June, Koike announced that the market would be relocated as planned and that the existing facilities would be rebuilt and reopened after the 2020 Olympic Games.

At a separate meeting Friday, however, the metro government virtually retracted its earlier decision to reduce benzene and other toxic substances in the ground water at Toyosu to safe levels before the market reopens.

“We need to accept it and reflect on that,” Koike said.

Koike and her team also vowed to put priority on resuming work on Tokyo Loop Road No. 2, which is supposed to connect Tsukiji with the city center. Work was halted by Koike’s decision to postpone the fish market’s toxic relocation plan.

And she said one of Tokyo’s major highways, the Metropolitan Expressway in Nihonbashi, a traditional commercial and financial center that’s home to the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Bank of Japan, will be moved underground.

Koike said the decision was made because the expressway is aging. Tokyoites have long complained that the elevated road ruined the neighborhood.

The expressway crosses over Nihonbashi Bridge, a stone arch built in 1911 to span the Nihonbashi River and connect Tokyo to Kyoto and other parts of the country. The bridge, a designated Important Cultural Property, replaced the wooden one originally built in 1603.

The metropolitan expressway system was built to mitigate traffic problems ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Koike said she wants to preserve the historical neighborhood.

“I consider it a chance” to improve the neighborhood as part of the metropolitan government’s reconstruction efforts. “It will be more suitable to establish the status of the international financial hub.”

Koike said the project will be carried out and financed jointly by the metropolitan government, the central government and Metropolitan Expressway Co., which operates highways in the capital.

The reconstruction plan will likely follow the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and is expected to take between 10 and 20 years, Koike said.

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