Customers gather around a seafood shop in Tsukiji fish market. (AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi)
The Tokyo metropolitan government said Monday it has set the time for relocating the operations of the Tsukiji fish market to the nearby Toyosu waterfront area between September and October 2018.
A specific date will be discussed with industry groups, according to the local government. The announcement came after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in late August that the market, where daily fish auctions attract many tourists, will be moved no earlier than next June.
The Tokyo government wants to reach an agreement on the date this month at a council consisting of officials from the municipality and businesses. It expects that additional safety measures to address soil contamination at the new site will be completed no later than next July.
Following the relocation, the local government plans to start demolishing the renowned market from October 2018 and utilize the vacant site mainly as a logistics base for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The Tsukiji market was originally scheduled to be moved to the newly built wholesale market in Toyosu last November. But Koike, who became governor in August last year, put the brakes on the project.
Concerns grew as key buildings at the new site, previously used as a gas production plant, were found to have been built on hollow concrete chambers instead of a thick layer of clean soil, which was supposed to have been done to counter the contamination.
Toxic chemicals, including benzene up to 100 times the government-set limit, were also detected in groundwater at the new site.