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Japan describes US President Biden’s ‘xenophobia’ comment as regrettable



President Joe Biden (Photo: PTI)

Japan has described as “regrettable” US President Joe Biden’s comment that “xenophobia” is stifling the Asian nation’s economic growth, the top government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Last week Biden said “xenophobia” in economies from China to Japan and India was hobbling their growth, while arguing at a Washington fund-raising event that migration has been good for the US economy.

“We lodged representations to the United States that the comment was not based on the correct understanding of Japan’s policy and regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told a regular news conference, without elaborating.

Hayashi was quick to add, however, that Japan’s ties with its security ally the United States were more solid than ever, and Tokyo will strive to make them even stronger.

“One of the reasons why our economy’s growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants.” Biden had told the event to raise funds for his 2024 re-election campaign.

“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.”

Japan, which prides its homogeneity, has long been reticent about immigration, although its falling birthrates and a rapidly ageing population point to an acute labour shortage in the coming decades.

Asked in a Newsweek interview published last week if he was interested in encouraging immigration to reverse the population decline, Kishida said Japan must consider inviting skilled workers, but ruled out a full-fledged immigration programme.

“For highly capable and motivated workers to be invited into Japan to provide support to Japanese society is what we would like to enable,” Kishida said.

“There are still some in Japanese society who are resistant to the idea of continuous, indefinite immigration of labour from overseas.”

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 07 2024 | 12:47 PM IST

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