Biden: India and Japan are ‘xenophobic’ and do not welcome immigrants

The US president was speaking at a campaign fundraiser when he made the remarks.

Joe Biden called Japan and India ‘xenophobic’ at a campaign fundraiser (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Joe Biden called Japan and India ‘xenophobic’ at a campaign fundraiser (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Joe Biden has called Japan and India “xenophobic” countries that do not welcome immigrants, lumping the two with adversaries China and Russia as he tried to explain their economic circumstances and contrasted the four with the US on immigration.

The remarks, at a campaign fundraising event on Wednesday evening, came just three weeks after the White House hosted Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida for a lavish official visit, during which the two leaders celebrated what Mr Biden called an “unbreakable alliance”, particularly on global security matters.

The White House welcomed Indian prime minister Narenda Modi for a state visit last summer.

Japan is a critical US ally. And India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, is a vital partner in the Indo-Pacific despite differences on human rights.

At a hotel fundraiser where the donor audience was largely Asian American, Mr Biden said the upcoming US election was about “freedom, America and democracy” and that the nation’s economy was thriving “because of you and many others”.

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

The president added: “Immigrants are what makes us strong. Not a joke. That’s not hyperbole, because we have an influx of workers who want to be here and want to contribute.”

There was no immediate reaction from either the Japanese or Indian governments.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden was making a broader point about the US posture on immigration.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their co-operation and the capabilities that they bring across the spectrum on a range of issues, not just security related,” Mr Kirby said on Thursday morning when asked about Mr Biden’s “xenophobic” remarks.