Emergency Meeting: Definitely Cancel the Planned Move of the Tsukiji Fish Market to Toyosu!

Participants: Consumers Union of Japan & Food Safety Citizens’ Watch

CUJ & Food Safety Citizens’ Watch held an emergency meeting on November 10, 2016 to discuss the emerging problems with the planned move of Tokyo’s wholesale fish market from Tsukiji to Toyosu. We demand that Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Yuriko Koike should definitely cancel the move to the heavily polluted Toyosu Island in Tokyo Bay. We have followed this debate closely since 2006 and wish Mrs. Koike would listen to the voices of concerned consumers. At our meeting, we adopted a resolution highlighting the importance of food and to never allow a polluted place to become a market where food is handled.

Resolution: “We demand that the move to Toyosu Island is definitely cancelled for the sake of food safety and peace of mind”

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest. We take pride in it being a place known as “Japan’s kitchen” and regard the move of the market to Toyosu as not only being a problem for the citizens of Tokyo.

The opening of the new market in Toyosu was scheduled for November 7, 2016 but has now been postponed for the time being. We can only suspect that Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning to release a schedule for a way the new market can open, after safety inspections and the result of a thorough environmental assessment and other procedures, including finding a way to finally evaluate the propriety of the move.

However, it is clear that the move cannot go ahead. New soil was not brought in and piled under the buildings. Benzene and arsenic have been detected in ground water at the Toyosu site at levels exceeding environmental standards. This is not unexpected. After all, the site was formerly the site of a large Tokyo Gas factory. Inspections have revealed high concentrations of benzene, cyanogen compounds, arsenic, mercury, and the toxic substance called hexavalent chromium remaining from the activities of the factory. As even the ground water is polluted, there should be no way of calling the site “safe” just by removing the polluted soil. This location is simply unfit to be a market where fresh food is going to be handled.

Food contributes to the well-being of our bodies, and also influences coming generations. In all cases related to food, the precautionary principle should be applied when making decisions, even in situations where there is not yet sufficient scientific data to prove cause and effect conclusively. It is unacceptable that a polluted site should become a market for handling something as important as food. Consequently, we demand that the move to Toyosu is definitely cancelled at an early date.

At the Emergency Meeting on November 10, we invited the following experts who spoke about their serious concerns:

Lecture: “What is the reality of the soil pollution in Toyosu?”

Ms. Kazuko Mizutani (Architect, Tsukiji market move trial plaintiff).

The land fill problem under the Toyosu buildings is not the only issue. There is great concern that the ground water management system is not functioning, and the high possibility that serious contaminants are polluting the ground water. Tokyo Metropolitan Government has not clarified this matter yet.

Lecture: “How the real motive behind the move was covered up; Regarding the coastal development of Tokyo”

Mr. Takao Ichikawa (Liaison meeting concerning Tokyo’s coastal development problem)

It is said that even though it was known that the new site was polluted, the plan to move the market went ahead in order to use Tsukiji as part of Tokyo’s coastal development. Also, the site at Toyosu was purchased from Tokyo Gas at normal market price, in spite of it being heavily polluted. The person in charge of this was none other than former Governor of Tokyo, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara.

Posted December 19th, 2016 in Chemical pollution, Food, Waste

Japan Resources – No 165

Please click here cuj-jr-165 for the latest issue of Consumer Union of Japan’s English newsletter, Japan Resources (pdf). The theme this time is safe & sustainable development, to highlight the need for those involved in production to better live up to consumers’ high expectations. We have also participated in events for peace and democracy, and will step up our efforts to reach out and raise awareness both abroad and at home.

We also share the story of how one small country, Bhutan, is aiming for 100% organic food production, truly a great idea and an inspiration.

We hope you will continue to stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, and support our campaigns!


From the Editors: Safe & sustainable development!

CUJ co-signed Joint Open Letter calling on UNIQLO to guarantee labour rights in its supplier in Cambodia

Global Focus on Fighting against Antibiotic Resistance

Stop Using Antibiotics for Farm Animals: Questionnaire


Bhutan Aiming for 100% Organic Agriculture by 2020


Posted November 30th, 2016 in Japan Resources

CUJ co-signed Joint Open Letter calling on UNIQLO to guarantee labour rights in its supplier in Cambodia

Consumers Union of Japan has co-signed the open letter calling on Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., owner of the UNIQLO brand, to guarantee labour rights in its supplier in Cambodia. We are urging Fast Retailing to increase their leverage by cooperating with other brands, e.g. H&M and Lindex, sourcing from both Zhong Yin as well as from a number of suppliers belonging to the parent company, Beijing Joywin. We firmly call upon Fast Retailing to act swiftly and responsibly, to use all their leverage and ensure the fundamental rights of workers to freedom of association.

Read More »

Posted October 26th, 2016 in Civil Rights, Corporate Responsibility, Trade

Bhutan Aiming for 100% Organic Agriculture by 2020

Rice paddy field management without herbicides made possible by Japanese aid

By Koa Tasaka (CUJ co-chair and Asian Rural Institute director)

Bhutan, the nation of happiness

Recently, I have been engaged in a grass root technological cooperation project for organic agriculture, in the country where the national aim is happiness. Bhutan wants to develop local agriculture with a focus on organic farming through a project with Mr. Inaba Mitsukuni from Minkan Inasaku Kenkyujo, a rice growing research center in Tochigi prefecture. I was able to help him and his research center get funding for the project from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Bhutan is known for making Gross National Happiness (GNH) an index of state development instead of GDP, which is the economic indicator of gross domestic product. Many will also remember that the Bhutanese king consoled Japan just after Japan’s suffered from the earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011. It was in November 2011 that their Majesties the King and Queen of Bhutan visited Japan. Their Majesties’ visit to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake encouraged many people.

Read More »

Posted October 5th, 2016 in Organic Agriculture/Food

Event: Petition Campaign for GM Labelling

How can we avoid eating genetically modified (GM) foods? Our petition campaign which started in 2015 has generated a lot of interest all over Japan, and we are collecting more and more signatures from people telling us that they strongly support the call for GM labels. This is the second round of our effort to show politicians and the government that all GM foods should be labelled properly. We will hold a meeting on October 7, 2016 at the Japanese Parliament in Nagatacho, Tokyo. Invited speakers will discuss the background and outline the threat to the consumers’ right to know, as the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will make it even more difficult for consumers to choose in an increasingly globalized world. Please participate and learn more about these important issues.

Close the loopholes! Japan's mandatory GM food labels do not cover products like food oil, margarine, and food additives.

Close the loopholes! Japan’s mandatory GM food labels do not cover products like food oil, margarine, and food additives.


Date: October 7, 2016
Time: 12:00-14:00

Location: House of Representatives (Shugiin) 2nd Bldg. Hall 1, Nagatacho, Tokyo



-Explanation of the problem with Japan’s current GM labelling rules

-Discussion session: What do consumers want?

-Signature submission to government officials


Consumers Union of Japan

No! GMO Campaign

Food Safety Citizens’ Watch



Posted August 31st, 2016 in Biotechnology, TPP