France president Nicolas Sarkozy made history today.
"It's the first time in the history of the Republic that an outgoing candidate has described a trip he never made," Francois Hollande, Sarkozy's rival in the upcoming elections, told BBC News. Probably not something he'll want to brag about.
Sarkozy had announced at an election rally, to 5,000 supporters, that he visited the Fukushima nuclear power plant after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last year. It's true that Sarkozy was the first Western leader to visit Japan after the tragedy. But records show that he did not leave Tokyo during his visit, which is about 180 miles away from Fukushima, the Daily Telegraph reported.
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Sarkozy admitted on Friday that he never did actually visit the dangerous power plant. "I don't need to stick my nose in the situation at Fukushima," he announced, according to the BBC. His political rivals were quick to jump on the gaffe.
Nuclear power is a hot-button issue in the French elections. The country gets over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, according to the World Nuclear Association. It is the world's most nuclear-dependent nation, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.
Sarkozy had been discussing the Japan disaster to lessen fears about France's own dependence on nuclear power. He said on I-tele that Japan's nuclear meltdown "was not a nuclear incident," instead blaming the damage squarely on the tsunami.
But Sarkozy's statements contradict the findings of a recent non-governmental panel. At the end of February, The Independent Investigation Commission released a report blaming the meltdown on the company that operated the plant, calling it a man-made disaster, The Asahi Shimbun reported.