Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Over 16,000 Taiwanese took to the streetson Saturday to protest against nuclear energy -- urging thegovernment to scrap plans for the construction of the country’sfourth nuclear power plant amid fears sparked by the ongoing disasterin Japan.
Holding yellow banners and clutching sunflowers in their hands,demonstrators rallied in three cities across Taiwan-- in Taipei,Kaohsiung and Taitung. The largest protest was held in Taipei,attracting more than 10,000 people, according to Tsui Su-hsin,spokesperson of the nationwide“"430 Sunflower No Nuke Action"protests.
In Kaohsiung, about 5,000 people took part, while 1,000 showed upat the Taitung rally, Tsui said. Protesters wore sunflowers tosymbolize their determination to establish a clean, sustainablecountry. They demanded the government come up withenvironmentally-friendly energy policies.
One of the highlights of the Taipei rally took place when all theprotesters fell to the ground on the Ketagalan Boulevard in front ofthe Presidential Office, while a mock air-raid nuclear siren wasplayed.
Tsui said the stunt was to remind the government of the potentialloss of thousands of lives if a nuclear catastrophe strikes inTaiwan.
Demonstrators gave an enthusiastic round of applause when TwoJapanese environmental activists, Ayako Oga and Saeko Uno, made it toTaipei all the way from Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, where theMarch 11 earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear power plant to fail,pitting that country into the worst nuclear crisis in its history.
Oga told protesters that environmental groups in Japan havelaunched a petition against its government’s plan to raise theradiation exposure levels to 20 times higher than the normal standardin order to deal with the crisis.
"We don’t want to see another nuclear tragedy in Japan, Taiwan,or any other corner of the world,”she said.
The organizers also tried to use mobile phones to collect onemillion anti-nuke petition text messages, but as of 7 p.m., less than1,000 messages have been collected.
Taiwan currently has three operational nuclear power plants, andis building a fourth. Three of the plants are in New Taipei City innorthern Taiwan, and one is located in Pingtung County in the south.
(By Hermia Lin)