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Activists preparing to sue Fukushima nuclear plant suppliers

TAIPEI -- Anti-nuclear activists from Taiwan and Japan are calling for participation in a proposed international group lawsuit against the equipment suppliers of a Japanese nuclear plant that suffered meltdowns in a 2011 earthquake-tsunami catastrophe, in an effort to highlight the responsibilities they have for the disaster.

With the support of 500 Taiwanese citizens out of a target of 2,000, the organizers said Tuesday that they are aiming to enlist 10,000 supporters worldwide by the end of March to file a complaint against equipment suppliers to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi.

Shih Shin-min, a professor of chemical engineering at National Taiwan University, questioned the regulations in Taiwan and Japan under which nuclear plant equipment suppliers are exempt from responsibility for nuclear accidents.

It does not make sense that only the nuclear plant operator and the government are held accountable for compensation in the event of a nuclear accident, while equipment suppliers are not, said Shih, who founded the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.

Safety becomes less of a concern compared to the economy for nuclear plant suppliers under the current regulations, Shih said at a press conference in Taipei accompanied by Akihiro Shima, a member of a group of Japanese lawyers involved in the suit, and Daisuke Sato, a representative of the No Nukes Asia Forum.

The activists said they are seeking 100 Japanese yen (US$0.95) in mental health compensation per affected person, adding that rather than the sum of damages sought, they are trying to shake the perceived protection given to nuclear equipment manufacturers.

Taiwan and Japan are in the same boat regarding the Fukushima Daiichi plant issue, since some of the equipment in Taiwan's nuclear plants are supplied by Japanese manufacturers, Shih said.

The three existing nuclear plants in Taiwan all have General Electric-manufactured equipment, he noted.

The nuclear activists will later leave Taiwan to garner support in other countries, including the Philippines, India, South Korea and Germany.

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