Low turnout at anti-nuclear rally sparks concern among activists

2018/03/11 21:34:30 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Low turnout at anti-nuclear rally sparks concern among activists

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Historically anti-nuclear marches have been some of the best attended demonstrations in Taiwan, but the turnout at the rally held in Taipei on Sunday afternoon was much lower than expected, and that concerns anti-nuclear activists.

The annual march, which took place at 1 p.m. to mark the seventh anniversary of the meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan caused by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that triggered a tsunami in 2011, saw a turnout of about 2,000, according to the organizers.

Protesters marched from Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, along the area around 228 Memorial Park, Taipei Main Station, the Legislative Yuan and returned to the boulevard where a rally was held with speeches by activists and musical performances.

Several participants told CNA that the march attracted fewer people than expected.

Philippe Fontaine, husband of Lin Chiung-hua (林瓊華), president of Green Citizens' Action Alliance, an organizer of the event, said he was surprised to see so few people at the rally.

It's important to be here to continue to voice our opposition to the use of nuclear energy to prevent any possibility that restarting nuclear reactors could be considered a solution, he said.

The Democratic Progressive Party administration has pledged to end the use of nuclear power by 2025, but it recently proposed a plan to restart the second reactor at the second nuclear plant in New Taipei's Wanli District.

Lin urged the government to put forward more effective measures to reduce electricity consumption before considering restarting the reactor, citing as an example construction rules adopted in France that have played a crucial role in achieving energy-savings.

Philippe Fontaine(left)and Lin Chiung-hua, president of Green Citizens’ Action Alliance, join the rally.

Paul Jobin, an associate researcher fellow at the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica who takes part in the anti-nuclear ally almost every year, said that he would like to see a public opinion poll to determine if people in Taiwan still care about the issue.

Even with the government's promise of a nuclear-free homeland by 2025, "the issue is not totally solved," he said, adding that many problems remained to be addressed.

For example, Taiwan still has to deal with the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the government is considering reactivating the second reactor at the No. 2 nuclear plant, which is the same as the one in Fukushima, and disposal of nuclear waste, he said.

"From the number of participants today, I wouldn't be surprised if opinion polls revealed that 80 percent of Taiwanese people think the nuclear issue is no longer a problem in Taiwan. But in fact, it is far from resolved," he said.

Paul Jobin(right)and Tu Wen-ling, a professor at Department of Public Administration of National Chengchi University, join the rally.

Senthil Kumar, who is originally from India and works in Taiwan, said countries need to scale up efforts to develop renewable energy because nuclear power is not a long-term solution.

It has been seven years since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and the disaster continues today, he said, in reference to the ongoing cleanup to limit radioactive contamination.

"Taiwan is such a beautiful country, we don't want to see things that would damage the country. We need environmentally friendly energy."

Senthil Kumar

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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