A Japanese coastal town in the western part of the country 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 ¥800mn ($7.31mn) in grants from the central government as part of a programme aimed at boosting local economies amid the pandemic, according to domestic media.
From that amount, Noto used ¥25mn to cover part of the cost of building the statue, which is 4m high and is 9m long, domestic media reported.
Total construction costs were around ¥30mn, they said.
Japan is battling a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the cabinet approved a $708bn 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.
Reuters called Noto’s government but the person who answered was not authorised to speak with the press.
Japan’s government buildings were closed yesterday for annual Golden Week holidays.
The grants were not specifically earmarked for spending related to treating coronavirus patients, and Ishikawa Prefecture’s infection rate is low compared to other parts of Japan, according to local media.
However, some people took to Twitter to question whether those funds should have been used for other purposes.
“No matter how you look at it, this is wrong. They have to return that money,” one Twitter user said.
Construction of the pink cephalopod began in October 2020, and the finished statue was finally moved to its current home in March of this year, local media reported.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Japan to decide soon on domestic spectators at Olympics
IOC vice-president in Japan as Olympic preparations ramp up
Japan may keep some virus curbs until Games start
Tokyo vaccination centre to offer shots to younger people as Olympics loom
Japan's Sapporo unprepared for Olympics amid Covid-19 resurgence
Top Japanese virologist warns of risks of Tokyo Games during pandemic
Half Japan thinks Olympics will go ahead, poll shows, despite opposition
Japan donates more than 1 million Covid-19 jabs to Taiwan
Japan considers asking Olympic fans for negative Covid tests, vaccinations: media