OPINION: Taiwan’s Anti-nuclear Movement Needs Reinvigorating

Turnout for this year’s anti-nuclear march was disappointing, even as the government shows signs it is willing to rely on nuclear power.

The News Lens
Date: 2018/03/13
By: Brian Hioe

Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The annual anti-nuclear demonstration and march held to commemorate the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Japan on March 11th, 2011, was held in Taipei Sunday.

The demonstration marked the seventh anniversary of the disaster, during which the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor was prompted by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The Fukushima disaster led to the revival of Taiwan’s longstanding anti-nuclear movement, as there has long been concerns that the high-level of seismic activity in Taiwan could lead to a similar nuclear disaster following an earthquake – and as Taiwan is much smaller than Japan geographically, this could be disastrous. Given the high and low ebbs of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement, at various points since 2011, Fukushima commemorations in Taiwan have actually been larger than in Japan.

Credit: Brian Hioe
Attendance was, however, low compared to previous years, with high estimates placing numbers at 2,000. The reality could have been much lower, closer to the hundreds. In 2014 during the Ma administration, shortly before the Sunflower Movement broke out, the anti-nuclear march drew 200,000. Anti-nuclear demonstrations after the Sunflower Movement drew 50,000 to occupy Zhongxiao West Road in front of Taipei Main Station, with tensions high due to a hunger strike by former Democratic Progressive Party chair and democracy movement martyr Lin Yi-Hsiung against nuclear energy. Demonstrators were later driven out by police, who fired water cannons on the crowd.

Perhaps, then, low numbers points to how key social issues are deeply linked to anger against specific political parties in Taiwan, with the anti-nuclear movement having seen a notable decline since the Tsai administration took office. Last year’s anti-nuclear demonstration did not draw more than several thousand as well, though organizers last year stated that they had anticipated over 100,000.    [FULL  STORY]

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