both blogs are back online



for adults only





Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike appears likely to wait until after the July 2 metropolitan assembly election to make a decision on whether to give the green light to relocating the capital’s Tsukiji fish market amid safety concerns about the new site.

“It is difficult to foresee what will happen. It depends on the outcome of a reexamination” of groundwater at the new site in the Toyosu district, where benzene at 79 times the safety limit has been detected, Koike said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

“The problem is very likely to be protracted.”

The relocation issue will be a major focus of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election as it is unclear who decided to build the new market at the site, she said.

The Tsukiji market, known for its daily fish auctions, was originally scheduled to be relocated to the nearby waterfront area of Toyosu on Nov. 7 last year, but Koike, who took office in August, decided to put the move on hold amid concerns about soil as well as air pollution at the new venue.

Although she said in November that the new market would likely open sometime around the end of 2017 or afterwards if she gives the green light, the schedule is now expected to be pushed back further as the metropolitan government needs to address environment concerns at the Toyosu site.

“If the reexamination shows good figures, people would wonder what on earth the previous examination was about. If it shows bad figures, that would be worse. At any rate, we will be forced to face a difficult judgment,” the governor said.

She has pledged to initiate drastic reforms of the metropolitan government as Tokyo grapples with the fish market relocation issue and the swelling costs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Koike, who has recently set up what is effectively a new party, said she is aiming to field many female candidates in the metropolitan assembly election.

As for the costs of the Olympic Games, Koike reiterated her hope that local governments near Tokyo will shoulder some of them.

“To pump up the event, I would like to obtain cooperation from people outside Tokyo,” she said.




Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday he and European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom have confirmed their resolve to swiftly conclude ongoing free trade negotiations between the two economies.

“We reaffirmed that it is extremely important (to reach) a broad agreement…as soon as possible in order to counter protectionist moves,” Kishida told reporters after meeting with Malmstrom in Bonn, Germany.

“We agreed to continue negotiations and keep the momentum,” Kishida said, adding that he and the EU trade chief agreed to promptly arrange the next round of negotiations.

While a broad agreement is now within sight, the parties remain divided over certain aspects of market access and tariff removal.

The meeting, requested by the EU side, came on the sidelines of a two-day foreign ministerial session of the Group of 20 major economies in the western German city through Friday.

The Japan-EU trade negotiations are continuing against a backdrop of concern that U.S. President Donald Trump’s election last November on an “America First” platform is part of a rising tide of protectionism worldwide.

There is also pressure to clinch a deal before elections in major European economies this year. France is due to hold the first round of its presidential election in April, while Germany is preparing for a federal election in September.

According to a French diplomatic source, it could be difficult to conclude the agreement by the end of the year if negotiations do not come to an end soon.

EU negotiators have requested market access for the bloc’s dairy products, meat, timber and wine at levels higher than Japan agreed to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade deal.

Japan, meanwhile, is asking for the European Union to remove its tariffs on Japanese vehicles and electronic devices, which are 10 percent and up to 14 percent, respectively.

Under the TPP, the United States agreed to remove its 2.5 percent tariff on Japanese auto imports over 25 years. Japan has urged the European Union to eliminate its auto tariff at a quicker pace.

Signed by 12 Pacific Rim countries in February last year, the TPP is now effectively dead in the water after Trump issued an executive order to pull the United States out of the pact soon after taking office last month.