Their superior safety has been known for a long time as well, which is why all 58 French reactors active today are PWRs (and most of those in the US are as well).
That being said, it is still probably a bad idea to put a power plant in a place which is known to be exposed to tsunami...
...Especially in the country which originated the word tsunami
I believe they achieved relatively high standards despite the lack of funds anyway. (By the way, molten salt is coming back, but mostly lack the funding necessary to prototype bigger reactors.)
There is not 'enough money'. If a reactor shows cracks in the steel in critical places, preventing this upfront might not be technologically possible and afterwards repairing might also be so expensive, that it economically makes no sense.
The big problem: if there is a technical problem, it is politically a very tough decision to close it, because of the costs involved (loss of profits from selling electricity, costs of decommissioning, costs of replacement, ...). Thus a more or less clear need to shutdown the reactor because of technical unfitness will conflict with financial interests and the scale of the money involved makes it worse.
One optimizes for longevity during design, as well as other factors which cost money. It may have, for example, been cheaper to construct, with a strict lifetime after which it would be taken down."Good design" is almost always subjective.
That politics drive nuclear operators to maintain plants past their lifetimes does not indicate poor engineering.