US President Biden’s Remarks on Japan and India Spark Diplomatic Concern

President Joe Biden has criticized Japan and India, along with Russia and China, as countries that “don’t want immigrants,” remarks that come shortly after he reaffirmed the “unbreakable” US-Japan alliance during Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s state visit.

Despite concerns over human rights and religious freedoms, India remains a key US partner.

The White House clarified that Biden’s comments were not intended as offensive to either country.

Speaking at a campaign fundraiser to a predominantly Asian-American audience, Biden framed the upcoming November election as a choice about “freedom, America and democracy,” emphasizing the US’s welcoming stance toward immigrants.

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden said. “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.”

There has been no official response from the Japanese or Indian governments, but the comments have drawn criticism within the US.

Elbridge Colby, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, tweeted that Japan and India “are two of our very stoutest and important allies” and emphasized the need to speak to them respectfully.

The White House defended Biden’s remarks, stating they were part of a broader discussion on US immigration policy.

Sadanand Dhume, a South Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute, noted that Biden’s comments could be poorly received in India, particularly amid a “nationalist upsurge.”

In a State Department report, the US highlighted “significant” human rights abuses in India, a characterization that the Indian government dismissed as biased.

Despite the fallout, Dhume suggested that Biden’s comments are unlikely to have a lasting impact on US-Indian relations.

Japan, historically known for restrictive immigration policies, has recently sought to address population decline by facilitating the entry of foreign workers.

The BBC has contacted Japan’s embassy in the US for comment.

Biden, who criticized Donald Trump as xenophobic during his 2020 campaign, has faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum over his approach to immigration, especially concerning the US-Mexico border.