Growth of anti-nuclear movement in Asia
Anti-nuclear movement growing in Asia Though nuclear power still has a strong foothold in Asia, anti-nuclear sentiment and protest are growing from Mongolia to South Korea to Taiwan and even – in modest ways – in China. Christian Science Monitor, By Winifred Bird, January 27, 2012 YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
Heonseok Lee has a simple way of describing how public sentiment toward nuclear power has changed in South Korea since the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March 11. “Before 3/11, I’d post an article criticizing the nuclear power industry, and right away there’d be hundreds of really nasty comments. After 3/11, there’ll still be a few dozen. But not hundreds,” says Lee, a full-time anti-nuclear activist in one of the world’s most pro-nuclear countries.
Though nuclear power still has a strong foothold throughout the region, and public opinion is mixed, activists across Asia have anecdotes like this to show that anti-nuclear sentiment and protest are slowly growing from Mongolia, to South Korea to Taiwan and even – in modest ways – to China.
This month, activists from Japan and South Korea announced plans for a new East Asian civil society network to promote renewable energy and oppose nuclear power.
“The more we share information on the dangers on nuclear power and spread technology and wisdom regarding natural energy, the more East Asia will become the center of peace, not conflict; of life, not destruction,” the network’s initial declaration reads, referring to frequent clashes in the region on the governmental level.
Organizers are recruiting 311 prominent pop-culture figures, activists, politicians, and scientists to sign the declaration in time for a March 11 launch (they have 200 signatures so far). Eventually, they hope to coordinate actions, hold joint events, and share information region-wide. ……
In the past 10 months, religious groups, unions, co-ops, and professional associations have joined the South Korean anti-nuclear movement, which had previously been composed mainly of environmental groups. In December, protesters demonstrated in Seoul and other areas after the government announced it had picked sites for two new nuclear plants.
The anti-nuclear movement has grown in Taiwan as well, according to long-time activist Sun-han Hong. Protests in late April drew a record 15,000 participants, and in December President Ma announced the lifetime of three existing nuclear plants would not be extended – a policy reversal for his party…..
Developments have been similarly mixed in Mongolia, which has no nuclear reactors but does have extensive uranium deposits. After news articles last spring revealed negotiations between US, Japanese, and Mongolian officials to dump spent nuclear fuel in Mongolia, the Mongolian Green Party spearheaded protests against the plans by holding press conferences, demonstrating when Vice President Biden visited the country, and delivering over 6,000 signatures to the National Security Council. President Tsakhia Elbegdorj eventually ordered a halt to the negotiations. Uranium exploration increased in 2011, however, according to domestic news reports.
After Fukushima there were some media reports but no real public debate. Nuclear power is not on the agenda of civil society [nationally],” said Tao Fu, a civil-society movement researcher and editor of the journal China Development Brief.
Shuling Cheng, a project officer at the environmental organization Blue Dalian in eastern China, said her group has begun to focus on the issue but faces difficulty. “There’s almost no information, human resources, or money. The government is very sensitive about the issue,” she says.
So far, activists across the region haven’t been able to make their biggest case effectively.
“For now, Asian governments can continue to ignore calls by anti-nuclear power activists because their size remains tolerable,” said Christopher Len, a research fellow at Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. “Asian governments will only reduce their reliance on nuclear power if they can be convinced there are viable alternative energy sources that can be implemented at the industrial level and within reasonable costs.” http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2012/0127/Anti-nuclear-movement-growing-in-Asia
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