A town in Japan paid for a squid statue using COVID-19 relief money

Japanese town officials have bewildered locals after using federal funding for COVID-19 relief to pay for a statue of a squid.

You can’t say that Japan is not creative. Noto, a town on the coast of Japan, paid approximately $230,000 to erect the statue in the town’s port.

Named “Squid Station”, the statue stands 3 metres high, 8 metres long and weighs about 5 and a half tonnes. Its tentacles splay out into the air, and admirers are lucky enough to have a lovely view of the squid’s gaping mouth.

Noto Squid Statue

It’s a move that town officials have looked upon favourably as the local economy has struggled under the sudden drop in tourist numbers and fierce competition with fishing boats from China and North Korea.

It’s hoped that the giant squid would boost tourism to the town once the pandemic is over. Culturally, squid is Noto’s main delicacy, with the region being famous for producing “Ishiri”, a fish sauce that uses squid intestines as the base ingredient.

However, the decision has been met with intense criticism from locals.

When speaking to one of Japan’s major newspapers, the Chunichi Shimbun, a local condemned the statue by stating that the money would have been better spent on “urgent support” for the local healthcare system, its workers and patients.

Despite the low number of COVID-19 cases in the area, officials defended their actions by sharing that “of the $6.2 million” they received in aid, “about $2.5 million [was spent] on infection control measures and $1.3 million [was used] to promote local businesses and employment.”

The leftover amount was the money used on the statue.

Though faring better than other countries, Japan has struggled under waves of coronavirus cases sweeping the island nation.

As of May 7, reports state that Japan has been “averaging 5,943 new daily cases” of COVID-19, with the country currently experiencing a fourth wave.

In response to this recent wave, economic restrictions have been put in place, with Japan’s citizens criticising the speed of the country’s vaccine rollout and the decision to continue hosting the 2021 Olympic Games.