Officials in the city of Noto, a fishing town in Japan, have come under fire after using coronavirus relief funds not to buy PPE or support small businesses, but to build a statue of a giant squid .
BBC reports that the 45-foot-long statue is on display in the city’s harbor, as the flying squid is the city’s “delicacy”. According to to local media, the city used 25 million yen (about $ 228,913) to build the statue, in the hopes that the large flying squid will attract tourists after the pandemic and ultimately revitalize the city’s economy. Yahoo Japan explained that the funds used for the statue were part of a larger government relief grant of 800 million yen, or more than US $ 7 million.
All local governments had the power to use the relief grants as they saw fit, Yahoo Japan says, and ultimately did not need to use the funds for COVID aid.
“I thought it would be possible to do something with an impact and use it as a catalyst for industrial promotion,” the city’s Noto official said in an interview with Yahoo Japan. “Even if it is not tied, it can be used if it leads to future economic measures.”
Japan is currently facing another increase in coronavirus cases but, according to the BBC, the number of Noto cases has been rather low. That said, the outlet also said the city has been significantly affected by the drop in tourism.
Noto officials told local media that the giant squid statue serves as both a playground and a photo spot, which, of course, makes the statue both family and Instagram friendly. While the statue would otherwise be a nice addition to the community, the pandemic is still a clear and present threat, and not all residents are happy with the allocation of these funds.
“It may be effective in attracting long-term clients, but there may have been a way to use it liberally where there is an urgent need for support due to the corona disaster, such as medical staff and facilities. long-term care, “said a local opposed to the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper.
Another local shared: “While the purpose of promoting tourism is correct in the direction of regional revitalization, there must have been a way to solicit ideas from residents.”
City officials know the residents are upset. In response to their criticism, the manager of Noto told the newspaper Chunichi Shimbun, “I understand that there are various opinions. After installation, we will try to maximize the effect and gain understanding while checking by user questionnaires. “