Bookstore owner Wu Cheng-hsan (吳成三), 72, was overjoyed on Thursday last week — Double Ten National Day — to see an anti-nuclear flag raised by activists in a demonstration held in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Last year, Wu said he started to notice an increase in discussion about the anti-nuclear flag, adding that he has also seen various coffee shops displaying anti-nuclear flags.
“The passion I felt for anti-nuclear events two decades ago came rushing back into me,” Wu said, adding that he contacted the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance, who designed the flags, and volunteered his shop to become a distribution point for anti-nuclear flags.
Wu said he initially placed an order for 100 flags and was worried that he would not be able to sell them.
He did not expect that he would have to place five additional orders in two months and sell a total of 600 flags.
“Some have even taken the flags abroad and displayed them in Hong Kong, the US and Canada,” Wu said.
Wu said there have been “significant changes” in Taiwan’s anti-nuclear movement, adding that two decades ago, the majority of protesters were from academic circles because “the police tended to treat them better [in comparison to other protesters] and wouldn’t haul them off to jail.”
Wu said the nation’s anti-nuclear movement now is attracting more young people, and as a result there are different ways of presenting their objectives, adding that he found the anti-nuclear flag very creative.
“It doesn’t require a specialist or academic to rattle off long strings of obscure terminology. It is accessible to the general public,” Wu said, adding that distributing the flag was a practical method of spreading the movement’s message because it is easily recognizable.
Wu, a long-time supporter of the anti-nuclear movement, said his involvement in the campaign started when he was studying abroad.
“I saw how Westerners took to the streets to protest the construction of nuclear reactors because they did not want their children to be affected by nuclear waste,” Wu said, adding that he learned that people must oppose what is wrong.
After his return to Taiwan 20 years ago, Wu jumped into the anti-nuclear scene because “as an individual who loved hiking, I could not accept any destruction to natural beauty.”
At the time, the government was considering starting construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), Wu said.
“I did not want any government development to destroy the natural beauty of Formosa,” he added.
The three nuclear plants currently in operation — Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門), Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County’s Ma-anshan (馬鞍山) — provide about 20 percent of the country’s electricity and are scheduled to be decommissioned starting in 2018.
The construction of the fourth plant has stretched over 14 years and has so far cost about NT$300 billion (US$10 billion) and has faced mounting criticism and concerns about nuclear power.
According to the alliance, 14,000 flags have been printed, sold and hung across the nation since the idea was launched on Oct. 10 last year.
The alliance said it hopes to get footage of either one entire house, apartment building or an entire street covered with anti-nuclear flags, asking for any volunteers to send their footage to http://nonukeyesvote.tw/newsCT.php?news_no=4.