A bluefin tuna fetched 114.24 million yen ($789,000) on Friday at the New Year's auction at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market, the fourth highest price since record-keeping began in 1999.

Photo taken Jan. 5, 2024, shows a bluefin tuna that fetched 114.24 million yen ($800,000) at a New Year's auction earlier in the day at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The 238-kilogram fish, caught off the coast of Oma in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, was jointly bought by Tokyo-based intermediate wholesaler Yamayuki and the company that operates the Sushi Ginza Onodera restaurant.

The price topped last year's 36.04 million yen. The highest price was marked in 2019 when a 278-kg bluefin tuna fetched 333.6 million yen at the New Year auction held for the first time in Toyosu following the relocation of Tokyo's main fish market from nearby Tsukiji.

"I'd been feeling that the economy was getting better, so I thought the bidding would reach 100 million yen," said Yukitaka Yamaguchi, president of Yamayuki.

"The decisive factor was the tuna's freshness and vibrant color. We are thankful to the fishermen who braved the cold to catch it," he added.

Referring to the devastating earthquake that struck central Japan on New Year's Day, he said, "We had mixed feelings about whether we should refrain from participating, but we decided to go for it in the belief that we also need positive news."

The auction, held at one of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions, began around 5:10 a.m. with an array of tuna laid out and bidders and sellers engaging in lively exchanges.

Meat from the tuna bought by Yamayuki and the operator of Sushi Ginza Onodera will also be sold at food stores in Tokyo.

Tuna are lined up at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market for a New Year's auction on Jan. 5, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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