US President Joe Biden calls Japan and India ‘xenophobic’countries in latest gaffe

US President Joe Biden has called Japan and India “xenophobic” countries that do not welcome immigrants, lumping the two with adversaries China and Russia.

The remarks made at a campaign fundraising event Wednesday evening came just three weeks after the White House hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. 

During the lavish official visit, the two leaders celebrated what Biden called an “unbreakable alliance,” particularly on global security matters.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed by the White House last summer.

The comment is the latest in a long list of gaffes by Biden, who is 81 years old. 

His Republican rival Donald Trump has aired a similar amount of public blunders and scandalous comments, including mocking disabled people, appearing to get his own wife’s name wrong and suggesting injecting bleach could fight COVID.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Freeland, Mich., Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

At a hotel fundraiser where the donor audience was largely Asian American, Biden said the upcoming US election was about “freedom, America and democracy”. 

He said the country’s economy was thriving “because of you and many others”.

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” 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.”

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

Japan and India critical US allies

Japan and India are critical US allies and vital partners in the Indo-Pacific. 

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 cooperation and the capabilities that they bring across the spectrum on a range of issues, not just security related,” Kirby said on Thursday morning when asked about Biden’s “xenophobic” remark. 

“They understand how much he completely and utterly values the idea of alliances and partnerships,” he added. 

Biden’s comments came at the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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