National

With eye on tourism, Tsukiji redevelopment planning set to accelerate in 2019

JIJI

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will soon accelerate work to draw up a blueprint for redevelopment of the former site of the landmark Tsukiji food market, following its closure in October 2018.

Through the redevelopment, the authority aims to increase the capital’s appeal as a waterfront tourism city.

It plans to set a new urban planning policy for the Tsukiji district in Chuo Ward by the end of March, while mapping out a vision for the Tokyo Bay area, which includes Tsukiji, by the end of 2019.

The former market site is “perfectly located, with very big potential,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike stressed in a recent interview, expressing the metropolitan government’s eagerness to reinvent the Tsukiji brand.

“We hope to develop a traffic network that functions like arteries” to connect across the Tokyo Bay area, she said.

Demolition work is underway at the 23-hectare Tsukiji site, which will be used as a base for vehicles to transport athletes and others during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, before being redeveloped.

The site is “the last remaining prime property that the metropolitan government owns in the center of Tokyo,” a senior official said.

Interest is growing in the kind of redevelopment plan the metropolitan government will come up with. Various ideas have been proposed, such as construction of an international convention center, a luxury hotel for visitors from abroad, a water bus terminal and other facilities.

Rather than selling the site as one lot to the private sector, the metropolitan government plans to divide it into multiple areas and work out development plans for each of them in stages in consultation with local communities.

In the interview, Koike said the redevelopment of Tsukiji will take advantage of nearby popular tourist destinations including the Ginza luxury shopping district and Hamarikyu Gardens, as well as utilizing Tsukiji’s traditional food culture.

The waterfront area, including the new Toyosu food market that took over the Tsukiji market’s former role, and the Ariake district, which will host many Olympics and Paralympics facilities, is a place “where traditions and new communities coexist,” the governor said. “We’ll aim for organic collaboration among them.”

In June 2017, Koike announced a plan to create a new market in Tsukiji that would also serve as a food theme park. That plan is now expected to be withdrawn.

The metropolitan government managed the Tsukiji market on an independent financial account for its wholesale markets. But the governor is expected to announce later this month that management of the former market site will be transferred to the general account.

The change will make it impossible to open a food market in Tsukiji again, but the metropolitan government will be able to redevelop the site from a broader perspective.