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News Navigator: What's happening at the former Tsukiji market site?

The former Tsukiji market site, currently being demolished, is seen in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on April 26, 2019. (Mainichi/Kentaro Mori)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the redevelopment of the former site of Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market, currently being demolished.

Question: What will become of the Tsukiji market site?

Answer: The wholesale market in the capital's Chuo Ward was relocated to the Toyosu market in Koto Ward after it closed on Oct. 6 last year, as the buildings and facilities had deteriorated after 83 years of use. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will build a large parking lot on the some 23-hectare Tsukiji site to use it as a transportation hub for athletes during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Q: How will the area be used after the games?

A: A redevelopment policy announced by the metro government in March envisioned an international conference and exhibition hall complex including a luxury hotel and large-scale interior spaces to be developed in stages by the 2040s. However, the specifics have not been decided.

Q: Can the metro government build so many facilities?

A: Metro Tokyo plans to grant long-term leases of unused parts of the Tsukiji site to private sector firms, which would then put up the buildings. The metro government expects the land to be in high demand as it is only about a kilometer from the popular Ginza shopping district. Meanwhile, some have pointed out the problem of soil contamination, as the area was once home to a U.S. military dry-cleaning facility set up after World War II.

Q: Is it possible that the area will once again be used for a wholesale market?

A: People opposed to the relocation had been expecting a wholesale market to be revived on the site after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced in June 2017 that she wished to transform it into a food-focused theme park. However, the metro government specified in its March 2019 announcement that there will be no new wholesale market at Tsukiji, as it was unrealistic from the start to have large markets in both Toyosu and Tsukiji.

At a meeting of the metro assembly, critics called the redevelopment plan a reversal of Koike's 2017 promise. Koike explained that she used the term "food-related theme park" out of a desire to utilize Tsukiji's traditional food culture. In any case, there should be thorough discussion on how to redevelop the site into as vibrant a place as it was during the eight-decade history of Tsukiji market.

(Japanese original by Kentaro Mori, City News Department)

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