Governments around the world have had their hands in their pockets throughout the past 12 months, doling out cash to help their countries stay afloat.
In Australia, we had JobKeeper, JobSeeker increases, a $1 billion COVID relief package, and targeted industry funding.
Japan was no different.
The Japanese government approved a $917 billion stimulus package in December, as the country struggled under the weight of a fourth virus wave.
Some of that money went to the town of Noto, in Ishikawa Prefecture on the country’s west coast.
Noto received some 800 million yen (about $9.4 million) to help pull it out of an economic slump.
Part of that money went towards building a statue of a giant squid, to display prominently in the town.
Sure, less than $400,000 was spent on building the four-metre high statue – but it’s still raised some questions about the ‘best use of government money’.
The town of Noto is famous for its flying squid, considered an edible delicacy. So the reasoning behind the statue is that it’ll be a tourism drawcard and raise the profile of the town’s fishing industry, in turn helping the area bounce back economically.
The government funding didn’t have specifics attached to how it must be spent, so Noto has exercised a bit of a loophole here.
But some people say it’s a fishy exercise.
One local told the area news outlet Chunichi Shimbun the money should have been directed at “urgent relief” like medical staff and long-term care facilities.
“No matter how you look at it, this is wrong. They have to return that money,” one Twitter user said.
Japan is due to host the postponed Olympic Games in July to August.