Anti-Nuclear Movement in Taiwan: Fukushima Disaster Prompts the Case for Citizen Participation in Democratization of Energy Policy

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:18 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Shu-Fen KAO , Sociology, Fo Guang University, Yilan County, Taiwan
The anti-nuclear power movement in Taiwan has a history of more than two decades, where the conflict has never been just a question of science, but because of uncertainty and complicated interactions of socio-technical systems, has been about interconnected economic, environmental and social concerns. In the aftermath of the neighboring 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, intensive media coverage and synergy among Taiwanese civil society groups and Japanese environmental activists in several national and local rallies resulted in greater public awareness of possible catastrophe from nuclear power disasters among both Taiwanese and Japanese citizens. Despite the strong civic questioning of current energy policy, the Taiwanese government, however, does not only retain its strong support of nuclear energy in guaranteeing the safety of the three current nuclear power plants, but also maintained that diminishing the fourth nuclear power plant would result in costly economic decline for Taiwan. Against that background, this paper aims to investigate how has the anti-nuclear movements in Taiwan been transformed during the past three years and to inquire reasons why it could draw varied constituencies to participate in this collectivism with unprecedented scale. In addition, this paper also analyzes how civil society through varied collective activisms has challenged current energy policy and moved towards democratization of energy policy. Employing a qualitative approach along with discourse analysis and interviewing actors from the various social movement groups, the author attempts to answer questions above in five arguments – a feeling of close cultural and geographical proximity to the Japanese, increasing distrust in safety of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant, cyber communities as mobilization networks, advocacy of elite and celebrity, activism alliances across varied social movement organizations. Finally, deriving from these empirical findings, the author discusses how democratization of energy policy could take place in also recognizing key barriers