Leaders of Japan and India Reject Biden's Claim that Their Countries are Xenophobic

Japan and India today rejected the claims of US President Joe Biden, who called them "xenophobic" countries, because they do not accept immigrants

by Sededin Dedovic
Leaders of Japan and India Reject Biden's Claim that Their Countries are Xenophobic
© Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

Japan and India today rejected claims by US President Joe Biden, who called them "xenophobic" countries for their alleged unwillingness to accept immigrants. Biden's statement, made the day before yesterday during a fundraising tour for the upcoming presidential campaign, caused sharp reactions in those Asian countries.

Japan pointed out that Biden's assessment was not based on an accurate understanding of that country's politics. Japanese officials stressed that Japan is aware of the importance of immigration to the economy and is actively working on immigration policy reforms to attract foreign workers and alleviate the problem of labor shortages.

On the other hand, India dismissed Biden's assessment by claiming that it is the most open society in the world. The Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized the richness of pluralism and diversity of Indian society and emphasized that India is not xenophobic, but on the contrary, an open and inclusive country.

With his comments, Biden put Japan and India in the same basket as Russia and China, suggesting that their reluctance to accept immigrants is causing economic challenges. However, analysts pointed out that this generalization is unfounded and does not take into account the complexity of economic and social factors in each of these countries.

"You know, one of the reasons why our economy is growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants. Why is China holding back economically? Why is Japan having problems? Why Russia? Why India? Because they are xenophobic, they don't want immigrants," he said.

A few weeks before Biden's statement, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the United States, where the two leaders confirmed the strength of the alliance between the two countries. The visit underscored the importance of cooperation between the US and Japan in addressing challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in light of China's rising power.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and Filipino President Ferdin© Andrew Harnik / Getty Images

The Indian Prime Minister also recently visited the United States of America, where talks were held on strengthening economic and security ties between the two countries.

This visit emphasized India's deepening engagement in the international arena and its contribution to global stability and prosperity. Bloomberg estimates that the president's criticism and the fact that Japan is mentioned alongside two of America's main rivals could cause problems in Tokyo, and that the comment about India was unexpected, given that India is the fastest growing economy of any major nation and, for unlike Japan and China, the population of that country is young and growing.

A survey released last month found that a majority of Japanese people support accepting more foreign workers, indicating a shift in public opinion on immigration policy. This is a clear indication that Japan is actively working to solve the labor shortage problem and open up its economy to foreign workers.

A Japanese government official said today that Japan is aware of Biden's statement as well as the clarification that followed. He said it was an unfortunate circumstance that part of Biden's speech was not based on an accurate understanding of Japanese politics and that Japan understood that Biden said it to emphasize that the presence of immigrants is an American strength.

Similarly, India is experiencing significant economic growth and openness to foreign investment and labor. Its seven percent GDP growth testifies to the dynamism of the Indian economy and its potential for further development.

In New Delhi, India's Foreign Minister S. Daishankar today also dismissed Biden's remark by pointing out that India is the most open society in the world. "I have never seen such an open, pluralistic and diverse society anywhere in the world.

We are not only not xenophobic, we are the most open, pluralistic and in many ways the most understanding society in the world," he said. He also pointed out that the GDP growth in India is seven percent and said that one should compare the economic growth in other countries.

The US economy grew by 2.5 percent in 2023, according to government data. Biden's statement caused reactions in the United States itself. While some supported the president in emphasizing the importance of immigration to American society, others criticized his generalization and lack of understanding of the specifics of immigration policy in other countries.

Despite these differences in views, the United States, Japan and India remain key partners in maintaining stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Their cooperation is important for maintaining freedom of navigation and protection of democratic values in this increasingly complex geopolitical environment.

The White House later said that Biden did not intend to insult Japan and India, but wanted to emphasize the importance of immigration to American society. This statement partly calmed tensions, but at the same time it emphasized the need for a more careful approach in communicating with partners and allies around the world.

Japan India Joe Biden