Noto, the fishing town where the statue was erected, bought it as part of a long-term plan to boost tourism when the pandemic is over. Squid is one of Noto’s delicacies, which the 43-foot figure aims to promote to those who visit.
The statue reportedly cost almost $230,000 (around £165,000) and was paid for using federal COVID-19 grants.
Noto was given 800 million yen (equivalent to about $7.3m and £5.3m) in coronavirus funding, which the government issued as an economic boost for the areas impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
Speaking to the New York Times, Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a town official said that the statue is intended to be “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period.”
He added that Noto had spent the equivalent of around £1.8m of their grant on coronavirus control measures, as well as almost £1m on boosting local businesses and employment in the region.
The town’s fishing catches have declined in recent years due to increased competition from Chinese and North Korean boats, which was a driving force behind the decision to build the statue.
Noto also built a tourist hub recently as it saw a decrease in tourism, which the sculpture hopes to remedy.
Mr Shimoyachi claimed that the statue was paid for out of left over money from the town’s payment.
It comes as Japan sees a spike in COVID-19 cases, with the country averaging 5,943 new daily cases across the last seven day period (correct as of May 7).
READ MORE: Fourth Covid wave strikes Japan sparking fears for 2021 Olympics
One said: “I don’t know — a town with a struggling fishing industry looks to increase tourism after first spending millions on infection control and local business/employment? I’ve seen worse ideas…”
A second added: “Have some historical perspective: what will be remembered one hundred years from now: Covid-19 or the giant squid statue?”
Another said: “That $230,000 giant squid sculpture looks really cheap & plastic.”