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March 25, 2017

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KMT to protest at 'nuke food' public hearing

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) is scheduled to hold two waves of demonstrations Sunday against a proposed lifting of the ban on food products from radiation-affected areas of Japan.

The KMT on Sunday morning will gather around 500 protesters in New Taipei's Xindian District in front of the venue of a central government-held public hearing on imports of controversial Japanese food products, according to a plan released by the party Saturday.

Later in the day, the party will mobilize around 10,000 people to march from Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to the Ministry of Finance building, the KMT said.

Senior KMT officials, led by Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), will also take part in the march.

Also that day, the Taipei City Police Department said traffic controls would be imposed on some road sections from noon until 3:30 p.m. Sunday to accommodate the event.

The affected areas are Aiguo East Road, Zhongshan South Road, Ketagalan Boulevard, Gongyuan Road and Aiguo West Road, all near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

The Taipei City Public Transportation Office said that 26 bus lines will have to change their routes Sunday in response to the traffic controls and urged people to use the metro system if they want to travel to the affected areas.

Taiwan banned food imports from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster following a massive earthquake and tsunami in on March 11, 2011.

The Democratic Progressive Party government is now considering lifting the ban on food from all the prefectures except for Fukushima, but this proposal has encountered virulent opposition.

Last month, scuffles involving critics and officials occurred at public hearings, where critics asserted that the central government was holding the brief series of hearings to pave the way for lifting the five-year ban on produce from the prefectures that were affected by radiation after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The government insists that it is maintaining its ban on tea, water, baby milk powder and seafood products from four prefectures — Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba — following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Products from the four prefectures that lack official place of origin labels and proof they are radiation-free are also banned from entering Taiwan. The Executive Yuan and DPP local governments also stand by complete enforcement of restrictions on food imports into Taiwan that are also banned in the U.S. and Japan.

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