Biden says Japan and India are xenophobic: ‘they don’t want immigrants’

“Immigrants are what makes us strong. No joke,” the US president added

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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 sought to explain their economic conditions and contrasted the four with the US on immigration.

The comments, at a campaign fundraising event Wednesday evening, came just three weeks after the White House hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for an extended official visit, with the two leaders celebrating what Biden called an “unbreakable alliance,” especially on of global security. Affairs.

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The White House welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi for a state visit last summer.

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

At a hotel fundraiser 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 .”

The president added: “Immigrants are what makes us strong. No joke. That is not an exaggeration because we have an influx of employees who want to be here and contribute.”

There was no immediate response from the Japanese or Indian governments. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden was making a broader point about America’s stance on immigration.

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“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values ​​them, their friendship, their cooperation and the capabilities they bring across the spectrum on a range of issues, not just related to security,” Kirby said Thursday morning when asked to Biden’s ‘xenophobic’ comments. “They understand how much he completely and utterly values ​​the idea of ​​alliances and partnerships.”

Biden’s comments came at the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and he was introduced at the fundraiser by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., one of two senators of Asian American descent. She is national co-chair of his re-election campaign.

Japan has acknowledged problems with its shrinking population and the number of babies born in the country in 2023 fell for the eighth year in a row, data released in February showed. Kishida has called Japan’s low birth rate “the greatest crisis facing Japan” and the country has long been known for its more closed stance on immigration, although Kishida’s government has changed its policies in recent years to population to make it easier for foreign workers to come to Japan.

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Meanwhile, India’s population has grown to become the world’s largest, with the United Nations saying it is on track to reach 1.425 billion people. The population is also younger. Earlier this year, India passed a new citizenship law that accelerates the naturalization of Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who have fled to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. But it excludes Muslims, who are the majority in all three countries. This is the first time that India has established religious criteria for citizenship.

— Associated Press chief political reporter Steve Peoples and Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.

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