Japan and India reject Biden’s comments describing them as xenophobic countries | News

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and India on Saturday denounced U.S. President Joe Biden’s comments describing them as “xenophobic” countries that do not welcome immigrants, which the president said at a fundraising event earlier this week.

Japan said Biden’s assessment was not based on an accurate understanding of his policies, while India refuted the comment and defended itself as the world’s most open society.

Biden grouped Japan and India as “xenophobic” countries, along with Russia and China, as he sought to explain their struggling economies, contrasting the four with the US’s strength as a nation of immigrants.

Japan is a key US ally, and both Japan and India are part of the Quad, a US-led informal partnership that also includes Australia in countering an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific.

Just weeks ago, Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for an official visit, as the two leaders reiterated their “unbreakable alliance” and agreed to strengthen their security ties in the face of the Chinese threat in the Indo-Pacific.

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi also made a state visit to Washington last year, where he was welcomed by business and political leaders.

The White House said Biden meant no offense and was merely emphasizing that the US was a nation of immigrants and said he had no intention of undermining the relationship with Japan.

Japan is aware of Biden’s comment and the subsequent clarification, a Japanese government official said on Saturday, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The official said it was unfortunate that part of Biden’s speech was not based on an accurate understanding of Japanese policy, and that Japan understands Biden made the comment to emphasize the presence of immigrants as America’s strength.

Relations between Japan and the US are “stronger than ever,” as Prime Minister Kishida showed during his visit to the US in April, the official said.

In New Delhi, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar also refuted Biden’s comment on Saturday, saying India was the most open society in the world.

‘I have never seen such an open, pluralistic and diverse society anywhere in the world. In fact, not only are we not xenophobic, we are the most open, most pluralistic and in many ways the most understanding society in the world,” Jaishankar said at a roundtable discussion organized by the Economic Times newspaper.

Jaishankar also noted that India’s annual GDP growth rate is 7% and said, “If you look at the growth rates of other countries, you will find an answer.” According to government figures, the US economy will grow by 2.5% in 2023.

At a hotel fundraiser Wednesday where the donor audience was largely Asian-Americans, Biden said the upcoming U.S. election was about “freedom, America and democracy” and that the country’s economy was booming “thanks to you and many others.”

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden said. “Look, think about it. Why is China stagnant so badly economically? Why is Japan in trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they are xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants .”

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