Visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed strong support and solidarity Thursday with grief-stricken Japan over the recent deadly earthquake and tsunami.

This is the first time a national leader has visited Japan since the March 11 catastrophe. Government sources said Sarkozy, arriving from China, had expressed his wish to visit Japan right after the disaster struck.

In a joint news conference after his meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Sarkozy pointed out that Japan is always quick to help countries in crisis and this time, it is the international community’s turn to come to Japan’s aid.

“The time has come for the world to do something for Japan and to show solidarity,” Sarkozy said. “We want Japan to remember that it is not alone.”

The two leaders also agreed to take up the Fukushima nuclear crisis at the upcoming Group of Eight summit.

Sarkozy said the Fukushima emergency would serve as a lesson to the international society, stating the need for common international safety standards on nuclear policy.

Being a major user of atomic power, France has already sent two experts from Areva SA, a world-leading company in nuclear energy, to Japan to assist Tokyo Electric Power Co. in dealing with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis. Three more specialists from Areva are also expected to arrive.

France is also hosting this year’s Group of Eight and G20 summits, and Japan’s current disaster is expected to be taken up as a global agenda.

The second-largest owner of nuclear power plants following the U.S., France generates about 80 percent of all its electricity via atomic power.

This is the second time since the 2008 Toyako G8 Summit in Hokkaido that Sarkozy has made an official visit to Japan. He arrived Thursday afternoon and was expected to head home in the evening.

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