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'Save Tsukiji': Protests as Tokyo fish market nears closure

News Desk

Agence France-Presse

Tokyo, Japan  /  Sat, September 29, 2018  /  06:34 pm
'Save Tsukiji': Protests as Tokyo fish market nears closure

Demonstrators protest against the impending move of the Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu in Tokyo on September 29, 2018. (AFP/Karyn Nishimura-Poupee)

Braving steady typhoon-driven rain, several hundred protesters held a demonstration on Saturday in Tokyo against the closure of Tsukiji, the world's biggest fish market and a lucrative tourist magnet.

The two-hour protest drew fishmongers, clients and fans of the market, which is due to close its doors on October 6 after 83 years to move to a site in Toyosu, several kilometers east.

"Save the culture of Tsukiji" and "Tsukiji can live for another 100 years" were among the slogans chanted by the protesters, who have filed a legal suit in a bid to prevent the move.

Lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya told AFP he had "always argued for Tsukiji to stay in Tsukiji".

"The new site at Toyosu is not suitable for wholesalers. There are going to be a lot of problems," said Utsunomiya, who ran to be mayor of Tokyo in 2012 and 2014.

Critics worry about soil contamination at Toyosu, which delayed the move from its original date of 2016.

Read also: Tsukiji fish market hosts last tuna auction viewing before move

Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike insisted earlier this month that the new complex, located on a former gas plant, would be safe and provide a "cutting-edge" environment for the selling of fish.

Utsunomiya however said that protesters could not understand why Tokyo would get rid of a site like Tsukiji which has a "global reputation and which all the foreign tourists will want to visit, especially as we approach the Tokyo Olympics in 2020."

Proponents of the move argue that Tsukiji is no longer fit for purpose, especially when it comes to modern-day hygiene and fire regulations.

But Asunaro Suetake, one of the protesters, said it was "strange to move the world's biggest fish market to a polluted site, especially when the majority of fishmongers are opposed."

Tsukiji market opened in 1935 and is famed for its pre-dawn tuna auctions, with one fish going for more than $320,000 at the market's final New Year's auction last year.

The new Toyosu market will officially throw open its doors on October 11.

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