He is the first foreign leader to visit Japan since the earthquake there and he visits with an idea:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is calling for new international nuclear safety standards, warning radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima Power Plant could affect the entire world. Sarkozy is calling for nuclear officials from the G20 group of industrialized countries to discuss the issue during a May meeting.
Nothing disputable here, as long as it’s recognized that a one-size-fits–all set of safety standards could overburden one country with rules that fit another country better. Landlocked countries don’t risk tsunamis, after all.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was as polite as the situation warranted:
By studying that [the causes of the Fukushima accident], he said Japan will have to consider what measures can be taken to prevent a recurrence, and this should be agreed upon internationally.
Fair enough. Kan has a lot on his hands, including a large displaced population, so this might not be the moment for helpful comments. Tomorrow can wait until today ends.
Regardless, Sarkozy seems to have no hesitation on nuclear energy.
He said everyone is working hard to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation. But there are not hundreds of solutions to reduce emissions, he said, and that is why this is not a question of choice, but of nuclear safety, because there is no alternative. He also said alternative energy plans cannot replace nuclear power plants, so safety standards must be strengthened.
True enough – Sarkozy says here what seems to be the emerging consensus (outside of Germany, of course) – that the world has set a goal that cannot be reached without nuclear energy. He might have waited for the IAEA’s safety conference later this year to unveil a call for international standards, but he has the reality about right.
A U.S. recruiter is hiring nuclear power workers in the United States to help Japan gain control of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been spewing radiation.
And this is heartening:
So far, the firm has already signed up some workers who will be flying to Japan on Sunday.
Melanson said there will be less than 10 workers in the initial group. Others are expected to follow later, he added.
Melanson is Joe Melanson, a recruiter at specialist nuclear industry staffing firm Bartlett Nuclear in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The speed at which Melanson is trying to recruit workers has probably limited the number of people in the first batch and it will be interesting to see how many Americans and others head over to help out ultimately.
President Nicolas Sarkozy.