Mon, Dec 12, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Japan Food Imports: KMT to protest Executive Yuan hearings

By Shih Hsiao-kuang, Huang Shu-li and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin, second right, yesterday hosts a signature drive event in Yunlin County.

Photo: Huang Shu-li, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) is said to have reached a decision with party cadres to mobilize at least 5,000 people to stage protests outside three planned public hearings by the Executive Yuan on lifting a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures, sources close to the KMT said.

The decision, reached during a high-level party meeting on Friday, is to see KMT demonstrations surrounding the three public hearings in New Taipei City, Kaohsiung and Taipei, scheduled to take place on Dec. 25, Jan. 2 and Jan. 8 respectively, said the sources, who declined to be named.

Another aim of the protests is to promote Hung’s planned recall campaign to unseat Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators who support easing the import ban on food products from Japan’s Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, which was imposed shortly after a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

The three public hearings were arranged after the government’s initial 10 hearings last month ended in physical altercations between KMT-led demonstrators and government officials.

According to the sources, the party’s goal is to mobilize 5,000 demonstrators per protest, with each local city and county councilors responsible for bringing at least 200 protesters each.

Hung’s announcement signified a shift in the party leadership in favor of social activism and street protests, which local leaders have long deemed essential for the KMT’s political survival, given that it is an opposition party facing attacks from the Cabinet, the sources said.

Former Chinese Unity Promotion Party chairman Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰), one of the DPP’s founding members, has been coaching KMT youth groups on social activism and protests, the sources said, adding that KMT politicians seeking re-election in 2018 are instructed to treat the protests as a preparation for the 2018 electorial races.

Meanwhile, KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday hosted an event in Yunlin County to promote a nationwide referendum drive he recently initiated on lifting the import ban, during which he dismissed allegations that he is acting without the blessing of the KMT headquarters.

“I have attended a lot of signature drives for the petition and found their participants to be from both the pan-blue and pan-green camps, or nonpartisan. A nationwide plebiscite should not be impugned with excessive attributions of political motives,” he said.

While he is not opposed to the party headquarters’ efforts to recall DPP lawmakers, Hau said such actions have to be taken now instead of waiting until after the DPP lifts the food import restrictions, as it would be too late to prevent harm to public health.

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