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.