A coastal town in western Japan has drawn ire on social media for using some of the coronavirus relief funds it was given by the government to build a statue of a giant squid in the hopes of boosting tourism.
The town of Noto in Ishikawa Prefecture was awarded 800 million yen ($7.3 million) in grants from the central government as part of an aid program aimed at boosting local economies amid the pandemic, according to domestic media.
From that amount, Noto used 25 million yen ($229,000) to cover part of the cost of building the statue, which is 13 feet high and 29.5 feet long, domestic media reported. Total construction costs were around 30 million yen ($274,000), they said.
Japan is battling a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the cabinet approved a $708 billion stimulus package in December to help the economy recover from the pandemic-induced slump.
Squid is a local delicacy in Noto and building the statue was part of a “long-term strategy” to raise awareness about the town’s fishing industry and increase tourism, a local government official said, according to domestic media.