Japanese town spends $320,000 in COVID-19 relief money on giant squid statue

Japanese town spends $320,000 in COVID-19 relief money on giant squid statue
Photo credit: Youtube - TheTonarinopoti

Government officials in a town in central Japan have spent 25 million Yen ($319,000) of a COVID-19 relief grant on a giant squid statue. 

Noto, Ishikawa was given 800 million Yen ($10.2 million) as part of a rural revitalisation project, in an effort to help the countryside in the wake of the virus, Yahoo Japan reported. 

Local leaders say while the benefits of the squid may not be obvious now, they believe it will attract more tourists after the pandemic.

The statue, which is 9m-wide, 4m-high and 13m-long, was set up to promote the Japanese flying squid that the town is known for. 

Regional governments across Japan were able to decide how they would spend the relief money and the individual in charge claimed the funds did not need to have a direct relationship with COVID-19, Chunichi Shimbun reported. 

However, officials in Noto received criticism for spending a large sum of money on the cephalopod attraction. 

"There is an urgent need for support due to the coronavirus disaster, such as medical staff and long-term care facilities," one woman told the outlet. 

Another man agreed that visitors are important to Noto, but said "there must have been a better way to solicit ideas from the residents".

Other towns in Japan have used their relief funds for infection countermeasures or to help businesses closed from the pandemic.