Maya Kobayashi was invited by Greenpeace India to share her experience

The government has revoked the visa of Japanese Maya Kobayashi, who was scheduled to visit India to share her experiences as a resident of Fukushima, the site of the nuclear disaster caused by an earthquake and tsunami last March.

Ms. Kobayashi applied for a business visa on February 13 after being invited by environmental activist group Greenpeace India to share her experiences with communities living near proposed nuclear plants in the country. She had been granted a visa just two days later.

However, on March 3, the Indian Embassy in Tokyo informed Ms. Kobayashi that her visa had been cancelled. “Your application for Business Visa does not match with the stated purpose of your proposed visit and is tantamount to factual misrepresentation,” said the letter from Sanjay Panda, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Tokyo.

According to Greenpeace India, her application said Ms. Kobayashi had been invited by the NGO to attend events and meet people.

Sources at the Ministry of External Affairs said visas are in the domain of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Embassies are merely implementing MHA decisions.

“The fact that the government is going to the extent of cancelling legitimately granted visas clearly shows that they don't want people from Japan to come to India and share their experience with the people of India,” said Greenpeace India's nuclear issues campaigner Karuna Raina. “Five survivors from Fukushima visited around a dozen countries and India is the only country to revoke the visa.”

Ms. Kobayashi was living in Fukushima city on March 11, when the disaster took place. As part of network of local mothers, she worked to save children from radiation as the disaster unfolded. She and her husband left the city in a bid to escape radiation exposure, and now live in temporary housing elsewhere.

The government has been cracking down on foreign-funded NGOs and activists which it claims are driving the protests against the proposed nuclear plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, with a German citizen already having been deported.

More In: National | News