LONDON: French President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday admitted he did not visit Fukushima during a trip to Japan after the tsunami last March, but had told an election rally he had visited the stricken nuclear plant.
Election rival Francois Hollande questioned Sarkozy's claim that he had been to the nuclear plant, BBC reported.
Sarkozy admitted that he had not. "I'm not an engineer, I don't need to stick my nose in the situation at Fukushima," he was quoted as saying by French TV channel I-tele.
The president had told an election rally in Normandy recently that he had visited the Fukushima plant with his then ecology minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.
Sarkozy said Friday: "I went to Japan with Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, I met the Japanese authorities, I discussed with the (Japanese) prime minister the situation at Fukushima and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet went there."
Hollande, the Socialist presidential candidate, said he had checked out Sarkozy's statement and that "he never went there".
"It's the first time in the history of the Republic that an outgoing candidate has described a trip he never made," Hollande said.
This was not the first such gaffe Sarkozy has made.
In 2009, he posted on Facebook a picture of himself at the Berlin Wall, saying he had chipped away at it with a pickaxe on the day it came down.
A caption dated the photo "9 November 1989", but the man who took it later said it was from the following day.