Sarkozy is using the Sendai quake and Fukushima troubles to play politics

Sometimes Sarkozy’s opportunism for gaining economic advantage is almost as vulgar as bunga bunga Berlusconi’s sex parties. But it is also – I think – a very clever move. Sarkozy is attempting to take a pre-emptive lead by being in the forefront of denigrating the Japanese nuclear program so that he can – by contrast – promote French nuclear technology and the French  nuclear plant manufacturer Areva and thus preserve the French dependence on nuclear power.

I predict his line will be that the Japanese nuclear plants were old fashioned and that French nuclear technology is different and inherently safe. He will walk the fine line between supporting “the Japanese people in their hour of need” while criticising TEPCO, its handling of the Fukushima problems and the outdated technology (the 6 reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi were built starting in 1963 and came into operation between 1970 and 1979).

From the BBC:

No other country relies as heavily as France on nuclear power. It relies on nuclear power for 75% of it domestic supplies. It has 19 plants and 58 reactors. France is also at the forefront of nuclear technology, and President Sarkozy knows the debate over nuclear energy following events in Japan will affect the fortunes of the giant nucelar group Areva.

Like other countries, France is to check its nuclear reactors following the problems in Japan. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s faith in the country’s nuclear programme seems unshaken. “France has made the choice of nuclear energy, which is an essential element of its energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gases,” he told his cabinet today. “This choice has been unseparable from an unfaltering undertaking to ensure a very high level of safety at our nuclear installations. I remain today convinced of the pertinence of these choices.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will call a special G20 meeting to discuss the energy sector in light of events in Japan. France currently holds the G20 presidency. France has also called a meeting of G7 finance ministers to respond to the crisis in Japan, Reuters reports. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says the meeting will look at “how we can take part in their debt issues and how we can react on a financial level”.

From Paris, the BBC’s Christian Fraser says that France’s decision to offer it Tokyo-based citizens the chance to leave is partially motivated by domestic political problems. “Obviously it is a precaution and they might be accused of scaremongering but their new Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has been keen to get on the front foot, to show that they are in charge of the situation,” he said.

Related:  Does France have special information about Fukushima?

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