Speaking on Wednesday at a campaign fundraising event in Washington that marked the start of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, US President Joe Biden stated that Japan is struggling economically because the country is “xenophobic.” He also cited Russia, China and India.  

“One of the reasons why our economy’s growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” said Biden. “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. Immigrants are what makes us strong.” 

While it came as no big surprise to hear Biden describe his country’s biggest foes, China and Russia, as xenophobic, the mention of Japan, a long-standing ally of the United States, will certainly raise more than a few eyebrows. Just last month, Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Washington for a summit and state dinner.  

kishida visits US

Growing Tensions Between Two Long-Standing Allies

“This is the most significant upgrade in our alliance since it was first established,” said the US president at a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden. It was all smiles then, but not long after Kishida had departed, Biden announced that he would block the acquisition of US Steel by Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp, stating that “the backbone of America has a steel spine.” His latest comment is likely to further heighten tensions between the two nations, though there has been no immediate reaction from Japan at the time of writing. 

Japan Welcoming More Foreigners 

As of December 2023, 3,410,992 foreign nationals resided in Japan, according to government data. That was a 10% increase from the previous year. It represents approximately 2% of the population. In a recent survey by The Asahi Shimbun, 62% of respondents said they support the government’s policy of accepting more foreign workers in industries with labor shortages. In 2018, the number was just below 50%. 

Related Posts