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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 12 - 18  > Shii: Tsukiji market relocation will become major focal point in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election
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2017 April 12 - 18 TOP3 [JCP]

Shii: Tsukiji market relocation will become major focal point in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election

April 18, 2017

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on April 17 in his speech at a gathering hosted by the JCP Tokyo Metropolitan Committee said that the issue of the Tsukiji market relocation to the Toyosu district will be a major campaign issue in the coming metropolitan assembly election (July 2).

Shii pointed out that the Tsukiji relocation issue is important for people both inside and outside Tokyo as a matter concerning food safety.

Shii condemned the Liberal Democratic Party for placing at the top of its election promises an early relocation of the market to a former Tokyo Gas plant site in the Toyosu district. He also criticized the Komei Party for playing a role as an accelerator by demanding steady progress in the relocation project. Shii said that these two parties have no qualification to engage in politics affecting Tokyo citizens’ livelihoods.

Shii cited a document which the Agriculture Ministry in March 2011 issued in regard to rules for the use of polluted land under which the land can be used for general purposes if measures to block soil contamination, including soil replacement, are taken. Shii explained that in the document, the ministry presented a viewpoint that “the application of the rules for the construction of a wholesale market of perishable goods is inconceivable”.

Clarifying why the ministry expressed its view by saying it is “inconceivable,” Shii said, “Because there is a risk that contaminants could break through barriers and emerge to the land surface due to quake-induced liquefaction. The construction of a fresh food market on such risky land could cause serious damage leading to health hazards to the general public.”

Shii said that that is why the Tokyo government promised to remove contaminated soil from the Toyosu site; and take measures such as soil replacement to remove toxic substances.

Shii went on to present a review of the implementation of these two promises.

Regarding the former promise, Shii pointed out that the Toyosu market was built at the former Tokyo Gas plant site in Toyosu, and that Governor Koike’s project team handling the issue admitted to the fact on March 29 that some pollutants from plant operations still remain at the site.

As for the latter promise, Shii reported that an investigation team of the JCP Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblypersons in September last year found that the underground areas of main building structures of the Toyosu market, which were supposed to be filled with fresh soil, remain as a basement with empty spaces. Showing the document that expert council of the metropolitan government released on March 19, Shii said, “The document specifies the risk of entering and diffusing toxic substances not only in the empty basement space but also on the ground floor as well.”

He added, “None of the two promises have been fulfilled. In light of the basic stance of the government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in terms of countermeasures taken against soil contamination, it is as clear as day that the market relocation to Toyosu is doubly ‘impossible’.”

LDP and Komei do not deserve to steer metropolitan gov’t

The LDP is now carrying out a negative campaign in its attempt to promote the market transfer to Toyosu, insisting, “The Tsukiji market has also been contaminated.” Responding to this anti-Tsukiji attack, Shii refuted, “In the 80-year-long history of the Tsukiji market, not a single contaminated food item caused by harmful substances has been detected. Also, the existing market has never, not once, caused food poisoning. It has a long-established and respected reputation in the world as the ‘Tsukiji brand’.” He then introduced a statement produced on March 29 by a women group of brokers in Tsukiji which criticizes the LDP’s Tsukiji bashing as “obstruction of business”.

Shii said, “The resolution to this issue is already obvious. The JCP demands the complete cancellation of the plan to move the Tsukiji market to Toyosu,” and asked the audience, “Don’t you think that the metropolitan government should fully opt for renovation of the Tsukiji facilities by gathering the wisdom of citizens and experts and gaining consent from the people involved in Tokyo’s wholesale market? Repairs and maintenance work for the existing facilities are possible from the aspect of cost, construction time, and continuation of business operations.”

Shii said that the LDP and Komei have promoted the Toyosu market since 2001 but have never reflected on the failure of their attempt. They still keep clinging to the Toyosu plan. He emphasized, “They don’t deserve to steer the metropolitan government!” and called on the audience to hand down a verdict of “Out!” to the LDP and Komei. He said, “Let us work together to build a Tokyo metropolitan assembly responsible for the life and safety of Tokyo citizens!”

Shii also pointed to the fact that Governor Koike’s group called “Tokyo Citizens First” has mentioned nothing about the Toyosu issue and instead is going to conduct electoral cooperation with the advocate of the Toyosu market Komei Party. He stressed, “Their policy on this issue will be called into question in the coming Tokyo metropolitan assembly election.”

Past related articles:
> ‘Tsukiji bashing’ by LDP faces fierce counterattack [March 31, 2017]
> Tokyo JCP presses Gov. Koike to halt move of wholesale market to contaminated site [March 25, 2017]
> 70% of seafood traders in Tsukiji call for cancellation of relocation to polluted Toyosu district [March 15, 2017]
> Vegetable brokers in Tsukiji oppose market relocation to polluted Toyosu site [March 3, 2017]
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