Biden labels Japan and India ‘xenophobic’ along with China and Russia

President Joe Biden has labelled key United States ally Japan and partner India alongside China and Russia as countries that were failing to reap the economic rewards of migration because they were “xenophobic”.

Speaking at a campaign fundraising event in remarks that were not filmed or recorded, Biden said hostility towards foreigners was hobbling their growth.

“One of the reasons why our economy’s growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden said at the event to mark the start of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“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. Immigrants are what makes us strong.”

Biden’s remarks on Japan and India came as a surprise since he has made a point of strengthening ties with the two countries since taking office in 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was at the White House for a state dinner only three weeks ago when the two countries celebrated their “unbreakable” partnership, and Biden said the US and Japan enjoyed the “same values, the same commitment to democracy and freedom to dignity”.

He welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House for a state visit last year.

Japan and India are also part of the Quad security grouping.

The White House sought to downplay the president’s remarks on Thursday.

“The broader point the president was making, and I think people all around the world recognise this, is that the United States is a nation of immigrants, and it’s in our DNA,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“Our allies know very well how much the president respects them, values their friendship, values their contributions,” he added.


Japan has the lowest level of migration of any Group of Seven nation, although it has been slowly opening its doors to outsiders to compensate for its rapidly ageing population.

No more than 2 percent of Japan’s population are immigrants, compared with 14 percent in the US.

India has overtaken China to become the world’s most populous nation. It passed a new citizenship law earlier this year that fast-tracks naturalisation for non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. All three countries are majority Muslim and the law marks the first time India has set religious criteria for citizenship.

Neither Japan nor India have responded to the comments.