Accused of xenophobia by Joe Biden, Japan defends its migration policy


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia on May 3, 2024. ADRIANO MACHADO / REUTERS

Accused of xenophobia by American President Joe Biden, Japan rejects the accusation and maintains its strict position on immigration. “It is regrettable that the statement is not based on an accurate understanding of Japanese politics”Tokyo reacted, Friday, May 3, to comments made two days earlier by Mr. Biden during a fundraising evening for the November presidential election, in the presence of representatives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders . “Why is China struggling so much economically, why is Japan struggling, why is Russia, why is India? Because they are xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”said the American president.

“The president was talking about how immigration makes America stronger”, tried to qualify the spokesperson for the White House, Karine Jean-Pierre. John Kirby, his counterpart in charge of national security, also downplayed the significance of Joe Biden’s remarks: “Our allies and partners know first-hand how much the president values ​​them, their friendship, their cooperation and the capabilities they bring on a range of issues, not just security-related. »

Mr. Biden’s statements came three weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the White House. Mr. Biden then greeted a “unfailing alliance”particularly on security issues.

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The nuances provided by the spokespersons did not calm the Japanese commentators. “Immigration is the subject on which President Biden finds himself most at odds in his confrontation with Republican candidate Trump”quipped Seiko Mimaki, specialist in American politics at Doshisha University.

Very supervised immigration

Immigration is also a sensitive subject in a Japan facing a steady decline in its population, causing a glaring labor shortage. The number of births in 2023 in the country, 758,631, was falling for the eighth consecutive year, according to government data. Mr. Kishida called the low birth rate a “biggest crisis facing Japan”. In the area of ​​employment, there were, in March, 128 positions available for 100 unemployed people. The unemployment rate was 2.6%.

Immigration, which is opposed by the powerful conservative fringe attached to the idea of ​​an ethnically pure archipelago and public opinion which tends to associate it with insecurity, is progressing, but in a very controlled manner and only cause of serious staff shortages. “Economists do not all agree on whether immigration is economically positive, underlines Tomohisa Ishikawa, of the Japan Research Institute (JRI). In some countries, immigrants are active, but overall, many pose problems. Japan must let the United States know that it does not practice exclusion, but that it controls flows and guarantees the rights of foreigners. »

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