The younger generation — particularly those in their 20s and 30s — have professed strong support for the anti-nuclear movement after anti-nuclear banners printed by the Green Citizen Action Alliance (GCAA) sold out ahead of a demonstration tomorrow.
The “No nukes, No more Fukushima” banner originated at an event started by a coffee shop owner in Taipei last year, who last year called on shops nationwide to hang the 90cm by 120cm banner outside their stores on Double Ten National Day in the wake of the March 11, 2011, Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan and the discovery of broken anchor bolts at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli (萬里), New Taipei City, last year.
The nuclear disaster — caused by an earthquake and tsunami — was the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The tsunami flooded the emergency electricity generators and cut power to the pumps circulating the coolant water for the reactors, causing the meltdown of three out of the six reactors.
The GCAA said it was approached by the coffee shop owner for help printing the banners and circulating news of the campaign.
According to the association’s count, there were a total of 1,150 banners seen nationwide on Double Ten National Day last year and the number increased to more then 4,000 on New Year’s Day this year when many people gathered to protest during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) annual New Year’s speech.
The campaign has been endorsed by many stores and the association has since reprinted three batches of the banners, amounting to 10,000 flags, association member Liu Hui-min (劉惠敏) said yesterday, adding that the banners have flown off the shelves.
“Due to the association’s promise to sell more banners during the protest, we have recently reprinted an additional 1,000 banners that are being held in reserve for Saturday,” Liu said, adding that the association apologized if people who still wish to buy banners are unable to get hold of them.
A man surnamed Wang (王) said that he went to buy a banner from a store in an alleyway across from National Taiwan University, Taiwan’s Store, on Tuesday, but he was told by the owner that the banners had already sold out, adding that he would have to place an order which would not arrive until after the protest tomorrow.
Wang said he could not believe his eyes when he saw that he was 103rd on the list of those waiting for banners, adding that he did not know that anti-nuclear sentiment was so popular.
Clerks at the store said they had already sold 500 banners, adding that almost all the customers were between the ages of 20 and 30.
They said they were going to hang it in a window, or even wear it on their person when traveling abroad, a clerk added.
Other stores across the nation also said that their stocks of banners had sold out.
The A Zhi Bao handicraft store in Hualien County and the Match Cafe in Greater Taichung both said they had been turning away customers wishing to buy banners, telling them to either buy them at the protest or to return to the store next month.
Another anti-nuclear group in Chiayi City said it had bought 90 banners in an attempt to stir up and popularize anti-nuclear sentiment in Chiayi, but the result had far exceeded their wildest dreams, with their stock being cleared out within three days of a post being put on Facebook saying the group had banners to sell.
Meanwhile, Liu said the banners are not only of interest to Taiwanese.
Some have sent banners to their friends overseas, in places such as Germany, Japan and Hong Kong, Liu said, adding that the friends have uploaded pictures of themselves with the banners so that they can participate in an anti-nuclear photo album event.
The event was launched by the association on Feb. 25, when 25 volunteers held banners outside the Executive Yuan and submitted a copy of the album to signify their resolution to oppose the installation of fuel rods at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Liu said the association plans to camp out on Ketagalan Boulevard tomorrow night and then raise the banner at dawn on Sunday in front of the Presidential Office.
The association plans to continue producing the banners after the protest to maintain the momentum of the anti-nuclear movement, Liu said.