A Japanese sushi chain called Kiyomura K.K. paid a record sum for a tuna fish during the Tsukiji market’s first 2013 auction. Kyiomura paid Y155.4 million ($1.76 million) for a fresh whole tuna weighing 222 kilograms and managed to defeat Itamae Sushi Japan K.K., an affiliate of the China based Taste of Japan Group.
The fish is big enough to be carved into about 10,000 pieces of sushi, according to Kiyomura President Kiyoshi Kimura. He added that last year he had bidden Y56 million to make sure the auction would be won by a Japanese, after the earthquake in 2011. But this year, amid the geopolitical tensions with China, Kimura said he expected people from both Japan and China to participate in the auction at Tsukiji, which is the world’s largest fish market and influences prices all over the world.
Although the two companies have competed against each other during the auction, they were actually together promoting global peace, the international press comments, referring to the tensions between Japan and China over a set of South China Sea islands claimed by both countries.
“There are some political difficulties, but Japanese customers and Chinese customers come to our restaurant, and what we want is for everyone to enjoy our sushi,” Kimura said.
Itamae company bid Y151 million for the fish, according to its spokesman, Makoto Kondo, who added that the company intended to share the fish with Japanese customers.
“Until last year, we took the tuna to our customers overseas, but we really wanted to deliver it to the Japanese people, so the fact that we lost is very unfortunate,” Kondo said.
The tuna was caught off the coast of Japan’s northeastern Aomori Prefecture, Kiyomura said.
Japanese eat more fish per capita than any other developed country, consuming about 56.7 kilograms every year, compared with a global average of 17.1 kilograms, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.