Hit hard by a worsening coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global tourism, cities across Japan have been tapping into government aid to stay afloat. But one Japanese seaside town in the port of Noto has raised eyebrows for using emergency relief funds to construct a giant squid.
The Japanese flying squid is native to the seas surrounding Japan and is considered a popular delicacy in Noto, which used to draw in crowds of hungry tourists.
Standing more than 13 feet high and over 42 feet long, the quirky statue was part of a rural revitalization project by Noto government officials, who told Japanese media outlets that they wanted to help businesses that were suffering. They added that the money from national COVID-19 grants did not have to be specifically spent on public health efforts.
Videos posted on April 13 showed that it was placed along the roadside near a museum and gas stations. It was believed to have cost 27 million yen ($247,000) to construct, according to Japanese media reports.
Japan is currently battling a fierce resurgence wave of the virus, with major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka under a third state of emergency, with daily new cases hitting record numbers. Despite opposition from the Japanese public, the government is looking to hold the Tokyo Games as planned, starting July, after it was postponed last year. No international fans are allowed to attend.
Locals in Noto, however, were not entirely pleased with the monster squid. One told the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper that the money could have instead been better used for medical staff and care facilities.
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