Leaders of a coastal city in Japan are angering some residents after spending $ 230,000 in COVID-19 relief money on a statue of a flying octopus.
Octopus is king of Noto, a fishing village of about 18,000 people 200 miles northwest of Tokyo. And on top of the throne now sits a pink, five-ton flying squid that seems to be a perfect fit in a place where squid is a favored delicacy and tourism was a growing industry before the pandemic.
Tourism evaporated after the government suspended its “Go for Travel” campaign last November. Still, some residents think there may have been better use of its relief funds.
Some people complained that the sculpture cost as much as their home. Others noted that the pandemic is far from over in Japan. Some of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, are in a state of emergency and facing a record number of infections.
You do not have to travel to Japan to see communities spend COVID-19 relief money on tangential, if less colorful, projects. In the United States, Indiana plans to spend some of its $ 3 billion on police body cameras. Louisiana could spend its $ 3.2 billion on repairing the aging water systems.
Still, the squid drew global news coverage, with the BBC, South China Morning Post, NBC News and even the New York Post weighing in.
Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a city official, told the New York Times that the city received $ 6.2 million in coronavirus assistance, spent $ 2.5 million on infection control measures and $ 1.3 million to promote local businesses and employment.
Shimoyachi said the city has registered fewer than 30 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. He said he hoped the statue would be “a driving force in the post-COVID period.”
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