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Politics

12,000 rally against nuclear energy in Taipei

These protesters in Taipei were part of a 12,000-strong march on Saturday demanding that Taiwan's nuclear reactors be shut down 10 years from now.

TAIPEI -- About 12,000 took to the streets in downtown Taipei on Saturday to demand that the government decommission three nuclear plants by 2025, when they will top out their design lifespan of 40 years.

     Participants waved yellow banners and chanted, "a non-nuclear home by 2025." The demand is supported by the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party. One flag carried by marchers read, "No nukes. No more Fukushima."

     Chen Shu-ting, a 32-year-old who has an 18-month-old son, said she has been attending local anti-nuclear rallies for four years.

     "I hope our next generation doesn't have to live under fear of possible nuclear accidents," Chen said.

     Wendy Chueh, 37, who works in the service sector, said she passively opposed nuclear energy for years but became engaged in the protest movement after the three meltdowns in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture four years ago. Radioactive water from the site continues to pour into the sea.

     Like in many countries, anti-nuclear sentiment in Taiwan surged following the Fukushima disaster. Amid swelling public demand, the Taiwanese government last April decided to suspend the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, although it remains ambivalent about whether the suspension is permanent.

     Further, while Taiwan's three nuclear plants should be completely deactivated by 2025, based on the typical design lifespan of 40 years, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou and his Nationalist Party have been considering the possibility of extending the facilities' operational period. The DPP and environmental groups ferociously oppose the notion.

     The DPP has pledged to help develop enough alternative energy sources so Taiwan does not have to worry about power once its reactors hit 40.

     "We are working on a sound energy policy," said DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who is expected to become the party's candidate for January's presidential race. "And we will invite our mayors to discuss the plan to see how we can implement our ideas."

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