Chen Bo-Heng/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A former head of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party has announced that he is ending his hunger strike, but not his campaign, against nuclear power on the island.
The former leader, Lin Yi-hsiung, 72, began his protest on April 22, and it drew attention from Taiwan’s leaders and from protesters, who converged on central Taipei in recent days to say they were inspired by Mr. Lin’s sacrifice.
In announcing the end of his fast on Wednesday, Mr. Lin thanked protesters for their recent campaign against nuclear power.
“Over the past half month, the people of Taiwan’s outstanding display has been unprecedented, which leaves one feeling moved, full of admiration and deeply appreciative,” he wrote in a blog post.
On Monday, the government announced that it was halting work on the Lungmen nuclear power plant in northeast Taiwan, about 20 miles outside Taipei, pending a referendum on its future. The project, known as No. 4, was started more than a decade ago and has cost more than $9 billion. The government has said the plant is important to Taiwan’s future electrical supply needs, and Prime Minister Jiang Yi- huah said suspending work on the project did not mean that it was giving up the possibility of restarting it at a later date.
The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan has raised concerns among many people in Taiwan about the safety of nuclear power, particularly with a plant that is near the ocean and the island’s largest urban area.
After Sunday’s demonstration, which the police estimated drew 28,500 people and organizers say had as many as 50,000, a smaller number of protesters converged on a main street near Taipei’s main train station. They were forcibly removed by the police using water cannons.
With the halt to construction on the plant and the end of Mr. Lin’s hunger strike, the momentum for antinuclear demonstrations has ebbed somewhat. But smaller protests have continued outside the legislature building this week, and Mr. Lin has called on his supporters to continue pushing for the shutdown of Taiwan’s three other nuclear power plants.
“If work on No. 4 doesn’t resume, it’s no longer an issue,” he wrote. “Nuclear opponents should take a step forward to ensuring the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 nuclear power plants are closed on schedule.”