A Japanese coastal town poured more than $225,000 from the emergency COVID-19 relief fund into building a massive statue of a squid.
Listen, I’m not scared of many things. Like many people, I absolutely hate spiders – even thinking about them makes my skin crawl. I’ve also got an irrational dash of thalassophobia (a fear of the ocean or sea, particularly the deepness of them), and that’s down to one horrifying creature: the giant squid.
However, in the port of Noto, located in Ishikawa prefecture on Japan’s central-west coast, the Japanese flying squid – much smaller than a giant squid, only reaching up to 50cm in length weighing between 100-300g – is a delicacy, hence its latest strange statue.
As reported by BBC News, the town spent 25 million yen (equating to $228,500/£164,700) on the 13m-long (43ft) statue. According to Noto officials, it’s seemingly part of plans to attract tourists back to the town following the pandemic.
In Japan, there’s been 610,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10,391 deaths. The country is currently battling a fresh surge of coronavirus, with Tokyo placed on lockdown and ill patients being forced to wait in ambulances for hours until hospital beds become available.
Nurses recently expressed outrage at the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics, set to take place this July, who called for volunteers amid the crisis. As per The Guardian, Susumu Morita, secretary general of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, said, ‘I am furious at the insistence on staging the Olympics despite the risk to patients’ and nurses’ health and lives.’
He added, ‘We must stop the proposal to send nurses who are engaged in the fight against a serious coronavirus pandemic to volunteer at the Olympics.’
Fortunately, Noto hasn’t been hit with particularly high numbers of cases – however, the drop in tourism has severely impacted the town. Via national grants, Noto received a total of 800 million yen ($7.3 million/£5.3 million) to support the town through the lack of tourism brought on by the pandemic.
While there was no requirement for it to be spent on only COVID-19 relief, the statue has attracted criticism considering the country is still battling the virus. Town officials belief it’ll work as part of a long-term promotional strategy.
A local resident told the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, ‘It may be effective in attracting customers in the long run, but there may have been a way to use it generously where there is an urgent need for support due to the coronavirus disaster, such as medical staff and long-term care facilities.’