Japan’s $3.1 Million – £2.5m – Tuna Sale. It’s A Charity Auction Dangnammit


Half the world’s newspaper seem to be reporting that a bluefin tuna was sold for $3.1 million in the first auction of the New Year at Tokyo’s fish market in Japan. There then usually follows varied guff about how tuna is endangered and that’s why prices are so high this year. The point about this, the reason that the ruminations are that guff, is that the first tuna auction at the Tokyo fish market, each and every year, is a charity auction.

Yes, it’s a charity auction. Self-important people wave their wallets around to gain a bit of publicity and show the Japanese public that they’re Big Cheeses. The sale price of tuna in this one specific auction is nothing at all to do with the supply of anything at all other than business ego.

That doesn’t seem to stop the reporting:

An endangered bluefin tuna was sold for £2.5 million ($3.1 million) in the first auction this year of Japan’s new fish market. The Tokyo market replaced the world-famous Tsukiji late last year and sold off 278 kg fish (612 pounds) to well-known sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs the popular Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has been a frequent visitor to the markets and for the past few years has been the winner of the annual auction. Japan is one of the biggest consumers of the bluefin tuna but overfishing of the creature has seen a 96 percent depletion of stocks from seas since pre-industrial times. This depletion could be one of the reasons the price of the tuna has gone up significantly – in previous years the fish has sold for £31 ($40) per pound, but this year’s prices soared above £157 ($200) a pound.

No lads, it’s nothing to do with depletion. It’s this instead:

The most expensive tuna cost 700,000 yen (US$6800) per kilogram. It was 200 kg, so the whole tuna cost about 150 million yen – that’s US$1.5 million! It was sold during the first auction of the year about three years ago. The first auction of the year is the most important auction because we ‘outbid’ tuna (that is, to secure the winning bid) to celebrate the coming of the new year. One of the most famous sushi restaurants in Tokyo outbid it to advertise because many television broadcasters, newspapers came here to cover the news. It was good advertising.

It happens every year, regular as clockwork. The first tuna auction of the year is that men enjoy comparing penis lengths and that’s about all it is. Pity the journalistic classes don’t seem to have memories which last those 365 and a bit days really….

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