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Tokyo fish monger fears more radiation leaks

Kazuya Yamamoto, a fish monger in Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market.

By Yuka Tachibana, NBC News Producer

TOKYO – At Tsukiji, Tokyo's main fish market, fishmonger Kazuya Yamamoto’s business has plummeted since the earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan on March 11.

“Business has been slow. We used to have many customers from the north where the earthquake and tsunami struck, but obviously not now,” Yamamoto told NBC News.

Tsukiji is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. More than 400 different types of seafood are sold in the market daily – from cheap seaweed to massive 600 pound tunas.

The Tsukiji market was actually built after Tokyo's main fresh produce market was wiped out in the devastating Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. The 7.9 magnitude earthquake, Japan’s deadliest on record, left nearly 150,000 people dead or missing and wiped out much of central Tokyo.

But it’s not just the lack of clientele from the north that worries Yamamoto. The radiation leak from the crippled nuclear power plant has left consumers jittery about what they eat and with news of sea water contamination, although minute according to Japanese authorities, Yamamoto says people are shying away from buying fish.
 
“All of us are worried about the radiation – it seems the government hasn't been forthcoming with accurate information, and that makes us even more concerned,” said Yamamoto.

The Japanese government finally admitted Tuesday that the safeguards that had been in place to protect the nuclear plant against the earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged the facility and caused it to spew radiation were insufficient. The government vowed it would overhaul safety standards.

And with the news that highly radioactive water has been filling up in a concrete trench under reactor Number 2 at Fukushima plant, there is concern that if the situation is not contained, the radioactive water could find its way into the ocean.   

Yamamoto says if the situation is not brought under control, it will have a devastating effect on business.

“If the situation is not remedied, I am sure that radiation will have an effect on the sea water, and if that happens, we're all going to be in serious trouble.”