The debate over how to deal with the aging fish market in Tsukiji began decades ago. In 1998, the Metropolitan Government began discussing a relocation plan. One of the candidate sites was a former gas factory in Toyosu.
The plan was accelerated by Ishihara after he became Tokyo Governor in 1999.
He appointed a close aide, vice-governor Takeo Hamauzu, as chief negotiator with the Tokyo Gas Company.
"We have decided on Toyosu as the candidate site and will accelerate talks with all concerned parties."
The plan to relocate to Toyosu was officially confirmed in December 2001. However, high levels of toxic substances were detected in soil at the new site.
The law says it's acceptable to build on a site... if the contaminated soil is covered with concrete. Ishihara decided to go a step further... and laid plans to cover the entire site with clean soil. In total, the Metropolitan Government spent more than 750 million dollars on this phase.
"We are bringing together only the best state-of-the-art Japanese technologies."
But last year, that confidence began to seem misplaced. Yuriko Koike became Tokyo governor and decided to review the relocation plan. She had serious concerns over water safety, and ballooning construction costs. She sent a list of questions to Ishihara but his answers failed to satisfy her.
"All of his answers were like 'I didn't hear it,' 'I have no recollection,' I don't know,' or 'I can't remember.'"
Soon after, it came to light that the clean soil had not been used across the entire site, as claimed.
Then a survey found high levels of benzene in groundwater. It was 79 times the national limit. And that only intensified doubts about Ishihara's relocation plan.