Japanese town uses COVID relief funding on £165,000 giant squid statue

A Japanese town has sparked controversy after spending coronavirus emergency relief funds on a giant squid monument.

Officials in the seaside village of Noto, where squid is a local delicacy, reportedly used 25million Yen (£165,000) on the 13m-long statue, in a bid to promote the local seafood speciality and increase tourism.

The town in Ishikawa was allocated a grant of 800million Yen as part of 4.5trillion Yen economic boost distributed by the government to help areas stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Yahoo Japan.

One person involved in the project said it aimed to “polish the attractiveness of the area”, with tourism promotion described as the town’s “trump card”.

Pedestrians cross a street in Tokyo's Shinjuku area on December 12, 2020, as the city reported 621 new infections of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: The COVID pandemic has seen Tokyo plunged into a third state of emergency

But some have criticised the decision, asking whether it was “really necessary” and if funds could have been earmarked for “urgent support”.

The pink squid measures four metres high and nine metres wide.

One of the town’s leaders reportedly said: “Since there was a policy from the national government to set a grant as a project to enhance the appeal of the region, I thought that it would be possible to make something with impact and use it as a catalyst for industrial promotion.”

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Local authorities were given permission to decide how to allocate the “temporary grant for regional revitalisation”.

Others opted to allocate funds for infection control or to help struggling businesses.

It comes as Japan continues to battle the devastating effects of coronavirus – which has plunged Tokyo into a third state of emergency.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Saga locked down the nation in a desperate bid to stop the virus spreading – with cities Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo also affected.

A previous state of emergency ended just one month ago.

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