Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed on Thursday to work together to solve the ongoing crisis at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The two leaders also pledged to cooperate in crafting new international nuclear safety standards by the end of this year.
Speaking at a joint news conference after their talks, Sarkozy said France will lead the international community to help Japan resolve the current nuclear problems at the crippled plant and come up with decontamination measures.
Sarkozy, who arrived in Tokyo earlier in the day, became the first foreign leader to visit Japan since the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that triggered nuclear crisis.
Japan is struggling to resolve the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 230 km north of Tokyo, lost vital cooling functions at four of its six reactors after the twin natural disasters hit its key facilities.
As chair of the Group of Eight (G-8) this year, the French leader also told reporters that the upcoming G-8 summit on May 26-27 will take up the issue of global nuclear safety and discuss the need for a global safety standard for nuclear plants.
The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia and the US.
President Sarkozy added that France wants to host a meeting of G-20 nuclear safety authorities in May to define international nuclear safety standards.
“It is wrong that there are no such international rules,” he said.
“We should improve safety standards, not discuss whether we should choose to stop introducing nuclear energy,” he said, adding “Japan is not alone.
In the face of this calamity, all of the G-20 nations wish to aid Japan.
France, as current leader of the group, wants to express our solidarity,” the French leader added.
For his part, Kan thanked Sarkozy for visiting Japan at a time of considerable difficulty to embody international solidarity, and sought continued support in dealing the ongoing nuclear crisis.
The premier said Sarkozy had asked him to speak about the accident at the Fukushima plant at the G-8 summit.
“Our country’s experience of this nuclear accident is very painful. But in order to avoid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience,” he said.
Sarkozy’s visit came as the Japanese government said earlier in the day that the level of radioactive iodine-131 in seawater near the Fukushima plant soared to 4,385 times the legal limit, the highest reading since the survey began on March 22.
France is the world’s most nuclear-dependent country with its 58 nuclear reactors, relying on nuclear power for nearly 80 percent of its electricity.