Tue, Mar 12, 2013 - Page 8 News List

New breed of nuclear objectors in the nation

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

Upon arriving at the Taiwan University Hospital MRT station and disembarking the train, I saw that people all around the area were dressed up in various outfits. From personal experience, I knew they were going to participate in some sort of demonstration.

In this instance, the demonstration they were going to participate in was one calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Taiwan.

Upon entering Guiyang Street and turning right toward the National Library, the streets were so crowded that people could hardly move.

When the crowds were moving, it was impossible to see where the demonstration began and where it ended.

Maybe it was because there were too many people, or maybe it was because a number of people did not want to participate directly in the demonstration, but crowds of people were also following the demonstators on the sidewalks and in the arcade-covered passages.

It was not possible to make an estimate of the number of demonstrators, but the rally must have set a new record.

It was moving to see couples, young girls, foreign residents and even young mothers with strollers participating.

The stereotype that the anti-nuclear movement only consists of old men has been contradicted. Now the movement includes young people of both sexes, and people from all walks of life.

This has brought the movement into a new phase. The anti-nuclear torch has been passed down to the next generation.

The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylviania and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine may both have occured a long way from Taiwan, but Japan is its next door neighbor, and the nuclear disater there has awakened growing concerns about nuclear power for the nation.

If it is true, like our former Japanese colonial masters said, that Taiwanese love money and are afraid of dying, then surely we must have noticed the danger to the lives and health of local residents posed by the radiation leak at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, and the resulting sudden and complete loss of value of nearby properties.

Can Taiwanese then remain indifferent? Will there be any variation between supporters of the pan-blue and the pan-green camps?

There now seems to be a public consensus that opposes nuclear power and demands that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市) be halted.

Only time will tell whether the government will listen to, and act on, public opinion or whether it will ignore it and make people live out their lives in fear of a nuclear disaster.

Chang Kuo-tsai is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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