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.