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Pandemic overshadows Japan’s New Year tuna auction

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Pandemic overshadows Japan's New Year tuna auction
Pandemic overshadows Japan's New Year tuna auction

Tokyo’s annual New Year tuna auction ended Tuesday without the usual jaw-dropping bidding war, with the country’s “Tuna King” holding back on gunning for the top fish, citing the pandemic woes affecting the restaurant industry.

The most expensive fish of the day — a 208-kilogram (459-pound) bluefin caught off the northern Aomori region of Japan, known for its quality tuna — was bought by another bidder for 20.84 million yen ($202,000).

That is just a fraction of the millions of dollars that sushi businessman and self-proclaimed “Tuna King” Kiyoshi Kimura has shelled out in recent years to secure the bragging rights that come with buying the auction’s top tuna.

Last year, Kimura paid $1.8 million for a 276-kilogram (608-pound) bluefin, and in 2019 he paid a record $3.1 million for a 278-kilogram (613-pound) fish.

But Kimura said he wanted to show restraint this year as the raging pandemic has caused so much suffering to restaurants and other businesses.

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