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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 20 - 2018 January 9  > Gov. Koike ends up following in ex-governors' footsteps on Tokyo's wholesale market
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2017 December 20 - 2018 January 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov. Koike ends up following in ex-governors' footsteps on Tokyo's wholesale market

December 21, 2017
Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko on December 20 announced that she will move the Tokyo central wholesale market, contrary to her election promise, from the current location of Tsukiji to the soil-polluted former gas plant site of Toyosu in October next year.

Metropolitan government officials and the heads of wholesale organizations in recent talks agreed upon the relocation date to be October 11, 2018. Many Tsukiji market dealers observing the bilateral discussions from the public gallery shouted, "What will become of the pollution problem in Toyosu! Do you really think we can ensure food safety with Tokyosu? None of us can accept this decision."

Koike, in her gubernatorial election campaign, made a public commitment to "reconsider" the market relocation project. Immediately after assuming of the office, she postponed the opening of the new market slated for November 7, 2016. At that time, she cited as reasons: concerns about soil pollution at the new market site; large and opaque project costs; and insufficient disclosure of information. She also promised to "decontaminate" the soil and groundwater at the Toyosu site as a prerequisite for the relocation.

The metropolitan government poured 8.6 billion yen in soil contamination countermeasures, but these measures have so far been unsuccessful. Heavily concentrated toxic substances such as cyanide, mercury, and benzene 100-120 times higher than the environmental limit are still being detected in groundwater at the planned site.

Despite this, Governor Koike opted to break her campaign pledge and even retracted the decontamination promise. In exchange, additional measures, including "functional enhancement" work to lower groundwater levels and laying over the basement floor surface with concrete, are being undertaken.

However, regarding these extra steps, the former chief of the Japan Association on the Environmental Studies and many other experts pointed out that those measures are ineffective and cannot guarantee the safety and security of foods.

The confirmation of the moving date, amid concerns expressed by many wholesalers, consumers, and specialists, is unwise as it follows in the footsteps of former governors who promoted the Tsukiji relocation.

Past related article:
> Majority of Tsukiji wholesalers feel relocation date should be determined by consensus [November 29, 2017]
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