Squids in: Japan town builds giant statue with COVID grant

TOKYO (AFP) – A remote Japanese fishing town has sparked debate after spending coronavirus relief funds on a giant squid statue that cost nearly USD250,000 in a controversial bid to boost post-pandemic tourism.

The huge pink monument with its tentacles outstretched was unveiled in March by the coastal town of Noto in central Japan as a proud nod to its local delicacy. It cost around JPY27 million (USD247,000) and was mostly paid for with a national tax grant to aid communities hit financially by COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite online debate over the merits of the public spending, local officials said they hoped the installation at a roadside rest stop would pique travellers’ interest at home and abroad.

“Tourism in our town has been badly damaged by the coronavirus. We wanted to do something to support the local industries,” including promoting squid fishing, an official at Noto town hall told AFP yesterday.

Many people came to see the 13-metre monument this week during a series of public holidays, the official said, with children playing on it and adults taking quirky pictures for
social media.

The huge pink monument with its tentacles outstretched was unveiled in March by the coastal town of Noto in central Japan as a proud nod to its local delicacy. PHOTO: AFP