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Bluefin tuna auctioned in Tokyo for record $736,000

Bluefin tuna auction: Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market saw last year's record broken with the auction of a $736,000 bluefin tuna.  It also broke the record for most expensive bluefin tuna by the pound, priced at $1,238 per pound.

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Bluefin tuna auction: Kiyoshi Kimura (l.) cuts a record breaking bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Thursday. The bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record $736,000 in the first auction of the year at the fish market. The tuna was caught off Oma in Aomori prefecture and just north of the coast that was battered by the March 11 tsunami.

Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

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This tuna is worth savoring: It cost nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, Thursday in the first auction of the year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. The price for the 593-pound (269-kilogram) tunabeat last year's record of 32.49 million yen.

The price translates to 210,000 yen per kilogram, or $1,238 per pound — also a record, said Yutaka Hasegawa, a Tsukiji market official. 

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Though the fish is undoubtedly high quality, the price has more to do with the celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the first auction of the year.

The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last March's devastating tsunami.

"Japan has been through a lot the last year due to the disaster," a beaming Kimura told AP Television News. "Japan needs to hang in there. So I tried hard myself and ended up buying the most expensive one."

Kimura also said he wanted to keep the fish in Japan "rather than let it get taken overseas."

Last year's bid winners were Hong Kong entrepreneur Ricky Cheng, who runs the Hong Kong-based chain Itamae Sushi, and an upscale Japanese restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district.

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