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Politics

Tokyo to turn old Tsukiji market into conference center

Hopes to climb to top-3 cities worldwide for holding international events

Tuna fish on display at Tsukiji. The wholesale market, since closed, was a popular destination for tourists in Tokyo.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Tokyo municipal government has finalized plans to build a conference center and exhibition space at the site of the old Tsukiji wholesale fish market, turning a fresh page for the popular landmark after the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The goal is to utilize the roughly 23-hectare plot of Tsukiji, which was the world's largest fish market, in a way to enhance Tokyo's competitivness as an international city. Japan's capital is said to lag behind rival Asian cities in terms of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, or MICE, and the number of international conferences held here was limited to 101, or 18th worldwide, in 2017.

Tokyo is aiming to increase the number of international conferences to 330 a year by around 2024, putting it in the top-three cities in the world for such events.

The Tsukiji land will be divided into several areas, one of which will be dedicated to international events like conferences. The rest could house hotels and other facilities aimed at tourists. No office or residential space is planned.

The proposal will be released on Jan. 25 and finalized by the end of the fiscal year in March, after a public comment period.

Demolition of the old fish market began in October, as the functions were moved to Toyosu in the east of Tokyo. The Tsukiji lot will be used as a transportation hub during the Olympics and Paralympics. The government will lease the land to private developers on long-term contracts afterward, with the goal of opening the new complex in the 2030s.

The Tsukiji site currently falls under the budget of the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, funded by fees from businesses at Tokyo's wholesale markets. But the successor fish market in Toyosu is expected to remain in the red for some time, so the Tokyo government decided to buy Tsukiji outright to ease their burden.

The purchase is estimated to cost about 550 billion yen ($5.05 billion), up from previous estimates of 460 billion yen.

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