Japan calls Biden’s ‘xenophobic’ comments ‘unfortunate’

WASHINGTON— Joe Biden’s labeling of Japan as ‘xenophobic’ was ‘unfortunate’ and ‘not based on an accurate’ understanding of the country, the Japanese US embassy says.

The US president said at a fundraising campaign earlier this week that Japan, India, China and Russia “don’t want immigrants.”

The White House has said he meant no offense and was merely highlighting U.S. immigration policies.

The comment, however, has drawn scorn from some American and foreign observers.

Speaking to a largely Asian American audience on Wednesday, Biden said: “Why is China in such a bad way economically? Why does Japan have problems. Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they are xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants. “

The US government later clarified that his comment was meant in the context of explaining “that the US is a nation of immigrants and that immigrants make the US stronger”, and was not “intended to undermine the US-Japan relationship” .

The Japanese embassy said on Friday it was “aware” of the clarification.

“It is unfortunate that some comments were not based on an accurate understanding of Japanese policy,” the statement added.

Japan’s traditionally strict immigration policies have been relaxed in recent years to address its steadily shrinking population.

Biden’s comments came less than a month after he called the US-Japan alliance “unbreakable” during a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Washington.

The embassy said the visit showed the U.S.-Japan relationship was “stronger than ever.”

Biden’s comments were also criticized by China.

Chen Weihua, a prominent columnist for the state-owned China Daily, said on X, formerly Twitter, that the US president was “obsessed with smearing China… It’s a serious mental illness.”

The Indian government did not immediately respond to Biden’s comments. However, Madhavan Narayanan, an Indian economist and journalist, told the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper that it was “incorrect” to say his country does not want immigrants.

“India has been attractive to both high-end expats and extremely low-wage immigrants from Bangladesh and poor countries,” he said.

Opinion polls show widespread dissatisfaction among American voters with Biden’s handling of the US-Mexico border. – BBC