• Kyodo

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A bluefin tuna fetched just ¥20.84 million Tuesday at the New Year’s auction at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, a price far lower than in previous years as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic weighs on the restaurant industry.

The price for the 208-kilogram tuna, caught by a vessel operating out of a port in Oma, Aomori Prefecture, is well below the previous year’s ¥193.2 million paid by a Tokyo-based sushi restaurant chain operator.

A 278-kg bluefin tuna fetched a record ¥333.6 million in the New Year auction in 2019 when it was held for the first time in Toyosu following the relocation of Tokyo’s main fish market from nearby Tsukiji.

This year’s auction started just after 5 a.m. with buyers wearing masks and no spectators in attendance as concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus continue.

Yukitaka Yamaguchi, president of intermediate wholesaler “Yamayuki,” who was the successful bidder on the tuna, called the price “reasonable.”

“It was a good result amid a lot of negative news. It is a good tuna,” he added.

The price was the seventh highest since comparable data became available in 1999, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Public viewings of tuna auctions, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions both at the market’s old location and the new, were suspended Dec. 26.

Under normal circumstances, it is customary for bidders to splash out at the year’s first auction, with restaurants using it as a marketing ploy, but like many other businesses restaurants have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic since last spring.

Wholesaler Yukitaka Yamaguchi cuts one of the auctioned tuna at a restaurant in Ginza after the New Year's auction at Toyosu fish market in Tokyo on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI
Wholesaler Yukitaka Yamaguchi cuts one of the auctioned tuna at a restaurant in Ginza after the New Year’s auction at Toyosu fish market in Tokyo on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI

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