HAKODATE, HOKKAIDO – A 58-year-old Canadian who teaches English in Hakodate, Hokkaido, has been mobilizing demonstrations against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Oma, Aomori Prefecture, on the opposite side of the Tsugaru Strait.
The plant, currently in the ground development stage, is being built by Electric Power Development, or J-Power.
“I won’t let anyone build a nuclear plant in the area, which at the shortest distance is only 23 km away from Hakodate,” said Peter Howlett, who started organizing the protests in June 2012.
Born into a missionary family in Sapporo and raised in Hokkaido, Howlett became interested in environmental issues during his childhood, when he spent time playing outdoors. He currently represents a Hakodate-based nonprofit organization that promotes power generation by natural energy.
Howlett started organizing anti-nuclear demonstrations after the Fukushima crisis started in March 2011. At first his activities generated little local interest and his demonstrations drew low turnouts. However, Howlett started drawing more attention through protest performances, including forming human letters reading “Oma Nuclear Plant is a Huge Mistake” with people holding up umbrellas, and protest marches with lanterns.
The 50 or so marches that have been held since have drawn more than 3,000 people.
“Now is the only chance to stop the construction,” he said.