Japanese Town Spends $230,000 Of Covid Relief Funds On Giant Squid Statue

A Japanese town has hit the news for the zaniest of reasons: it spent a whopping $230,000 given by the federal government for COVID-19 relief on a giant squid statue to be displayed in the town center. Noto is a fishing town where squid is considered a prized delicacy, and the erection of the statue is thought to be an attempt to boost tourism after the pandemic. Sure, why not?

  1. The squid statue is absolutely gigantic. Weighing five-and-a-half tons, Noto’s giant squid statue resides outside of a squid-themed restaurant and the town’s tourist center. Town official Tetsuji Shimoyachi hopes that the statue, which is pretty impossible to miss, will have a positive effect on visitors coming to the area and become “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period,” the New York Times reports.
  2. Some of the town’s residents aren’t particularly convinced. Noto, which is located about 180 miles from Tokyo and has 16,000 residents, may have had only the best intentions when sinking so much cash into the giant squid statue, but many people who live there aren’t so happy about it.
  3. They believe the money could have gone elsewhere. Many residents questioned whether tourism should be a priority “in a country where vaccines were not provided, P.C.R. testing isn’t increased and the medical system has collapsed.” However, Shimoyachi points out that of the $6.2 million Noto had received from the government for relief, roughly $2.5 million had been spent on COVID-19 infection control and $1.3 million to help local businesses and jobs. The money spent on the squid statue was left over from those funds, he said.
  4. The squid statue was desperately needed. Shimoyachi pointed out that while squid fishing used to be a major industry in Noto, catches continue to decline because of Chinese and Korean fishing vessels also trawling the area. Not only that, but tourism to the area has fallen, so the squid and the new tourist center will hopefully help revive that sector following the pandemic.

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