Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has come out with all guns blazing after being linked to problems involving the chemical contamination of soil beneath Tokyo's new Toyosu fish market.

He claimed he was "cheated" and described the metropolitan government as being full of "demons," among other things.

When Ishihara, no stranger to controversy, was serving as Tokyo governor in 2008, he referred to the idea of utilizing underground portions beneath major buildings at the Toyosu facility, which is expected to replace the current Tsukiji fish market.

The problem was that a Tokyo Gas Co. factory once stood on the plot of land in Tokyo's Koto Ward, and the soil had been found to be contaminated with benzene and other chemicals.

The idea of creating basement areas was repeatedly mentioned in the Tokyo metropolitan government even after an experts’ council had proposed that 4.5 meters of fresh soil be spread across the entire site to avoid contamination.

However, no fresh soil was placed in the underground areas below three major buildings.

Did Ishihara’s mention of using underground spaces influence the metropolitan government’s decision to create them?

To deal with the problem of contamination, the experts’ council, set up by the metropolitan government from Ishihara's idea, decided on soil replacement and land elevation throughout the entire compound at a meeting on May 19, 2008.

However, Ishihara presented a different idea at a news conference on May 30 after hearing a proposal from an outside researcher.

“Concrete boxes would be created. ... They would be buried there to support the infrastructure of the market. I heard that the cost of the measure would be much smaller and its construction period would be much shorter,” Ishihara said.

Back then, Ishihara repeatedly suggested the metropolitan government could examine a method different from the one proposed by the experts’ council. The major challenge at that time was how to curb the cost while dealing with contaminated soil.

As for the estimated amount of 67 billion yen ($656.4 million), Ishihara said May 16 of the same year that the actual cost would be much higher.

Concerning his remarks of those days, Ishihara told reporters Sept. 15 this year, “I am a nonprofessional person (on construction methods). I only reported (the method of burying concrete boxes) in a news conference after receiving a report (from an official of the metropolitan government).”

As for the fact that soil replacement and land elevation was not conducted beneath major buildings, Ishihara said, “I have no knowledge about construction methods. My subordinates decided on them by consulting a design office.”

Ishihara denied that he issued an instruction to his subordinates.

“(My instruction) was that it is better to relocate (the Tsukiji fish market)," he said. "It was my only instruction. What should be done after that is what the officials in charge of the issue decide through negotiations.”

On a BS Fuji Inc. TV program on Sept. 13, the former governor added, “I did not hear (that the land was not elevated). I was cheated.”

It is unclear whether his public remark about the utilization of underground portions led to the decision not to elevate the land there.

Meanwhile, Hideto Hiruma, a former high-ranking official of the metropolitan government, said Sept. 16, “I was told by Ishihara to study (the possible use of underground portions).”

Hiruma was in charge of issues regarding Toyosu as he was then head of the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, which includes the new facility.

He said he did not adopt Ishihara's idea of concrete boxes as it was expected to cost too much.

“The point of the idea was that it could reduce the construction cost, rather than an idea for utilizing underground portions. I don’t think that the current situation without land elevation was made due to influences from Ishihara’s idea,” Hiruma said.