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Japanese city builds giant squid statue with relief money

Flying squids are a delicacy in the fishing town of Noto, but tourism has declined significantly due to the pandemic

A seaside town in Japan raised eyebrows after using funding from a Covid-19 emergency relief grant to build a giant statue of a squid.

The 13m long sea creature can be found in the port of Noto, where the flying squid is the delicacy of the city.

He reportedly used 25 million yen ($ 228,500; £ 164,700) of emergency funding to build the statue.

Noto officials told local media it was part of a long-term plan to attract tourists after the pandemic.

Japan is grappling with another outbreak of coronavirus cases, and Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency – the third for the country since the start of the pandemic.

The fishing village of Noto – which is located in Ishikawa Prefecture on the west-central coast of Japan – has had a very low number of cases, but it has been affected by the significant drop in the number of tourists.

Noto received 800million yen ($ 7.3million; £ 5.3million) through national grants, which were intended to boost the emergency economy to help regional areas affected by the pandemic, reports Yahoo Japan.

The funds did not have to be spent directly on Covid relief. However, some have criticized the city administration for spending so much money on the giant cephalopod, especially since the pandemic is not yet over.

A local told the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper that if the statue could be effective in the long term, the money could have been used for “urgent support,” such as for medical staff and long-term care facilities.

But a city spokesperson told Fuji News Network that the statue will be a tourist attraction and part of a long-term strategy to help promote Noto’s famous flying squid.

As in many other countries, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Japan’s tourism industry hard. The country is hosting the Olympics this year, but no international fans will be allowed to participate in the event, which could represent losses of 200 billion yen ($ 1.8 billion; £ 1.3 billion) , according to Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at the Nomura Research Institute.

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