Jiang says no vote date, vows clear safety info
CNATAIPEI--Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Sunday that although a timetable for a referendum on the plant's fate has yet to finalized, safety inspections of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant are being conducted.
March 11, 2013, 12:10 am TWN
The Cabinet has asked Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch to present clear information on the safety of the controversial nuclear power project to allow voters to make a more informed decision when the vote is held, Jiang said during a visit to the Taipei International Machine Tool Show.
In response to the anti-nuclear protest that took place across the country a day earlier, the premier said he was touched by the way several civic organizations made their voices heard in an objective and rational manner.
Jiang again stressed that the future of the fourth nuclear power project will be decided through a referendum, but noted that the government's policy is to gradually make Taiwan a nuclear-free country.
The referendum will ask voters if they agree to stopping work on the plant and not allowing it to operate.
President Ma Ying-jeou also reiterated his support Sunday for the referendum, calling it a choice between reducing the use of nuclear power and immediately abolishing nuclear power.
Though pledging that the plant would not start operations if there were any safety concerns, Ma said the potential impact of halting work on the plant on Taiwan's economy also had to be considered.
The president pointed to the economic consequences of Japan's move to shut down its more than 50 nuclear reactors by mid-2012 in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 following a massive earthquake and tsunami in the area.
Japan was forced to import huge amounts of oil and liquefied natural gas to make up the power shortfall, leading to the country's biggest trade deficit in history, the president said.
Also, in September 2012, Japan raised electricity prices 8.46 percent and 14.9 percent for residential and industrial users, respectively, Ma said, and 69 percent of Japanese firms said the rate hikes coupled with power rationing could accelerate their plans to relocate overseas.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who assumed office last December, reversed the policy of his predecessor Yoshihiko Noda to abolish nuclear power, pledging in February to restart nuclear power plants to prevent the hollowing out of the country's industries, Ma said.
Because Japan's energy situation was similar to Taiwan's, the president said, the twists and turns in its nuclear policy could be very instructive for Taiwan, Ma said.