Japan calls Biden 'xenophobic' comments 'unfortunate'

Biden and Fumio Kishida
The White House hosted Japanese PM Fumio Kishida for a state visit in April. [Getty Images]

The labelling of Japan as "xenophobic" by Joe Biden was "unfortunate" and "not based on an accurate" understanding of the country, Japan's US embassy says.

The US president said during a campaign fundraising event earlier this week that Japan, India, China and Russia "don't want immigrants".

The White House has said he meant no offence and was merely highlighting US immigration policies.

The comment, however, has drawn scorn from some US and foreign observers.

Speaking to a largely Asian-American audience on Wednesday, Mr Biden said: "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."

The US government later clarified that his comment was meant in the context of explaining "that the US is a nation of immigrants and that immigrants make the US stronger", and did not have "the intent of undermining" the US-Japan relationship.

Japan's embassy said on Friday that it was "aware" of the clarification.

"It is unfortunate that some of the comments were not based on an accurate understanding of Japan's policies," the statement added.

Japan's traditionally strict immigration policies have been loosened in recent years to to address a steadily shrinking population.

Mr Biden's comments came less than a month after he called the US-Japan alliance "unbreakable" during a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Washington.

The embassy said the visit showed that the US-Japan relationship was "stronger than ever".

Mr Biden's comments were also criticised by China.

Chen Weihua, a prominent columnist for the state-owned China Daily, said on X, formerly Twitter, that the US president was "obsessed with smearing China... It's a serious mental disease."

India's government has not directly responded to Mr Biden's comments. However, Madhavan Narayanan, an Indian economist and journalist, told the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper that it was "incorrect" to say his country does not want immigrants.

"India has been attractive either for the high-end expats or for the extremely low-wage kind of immigrants from Bangladesh and poor countries," he said.

Opinion polls indicate widespread dissatisfaction among US voters over Mr Biden's handling of the US-Mexico border.