The Quick Report

Biden Lumps Japan in with China and Russia During Fundraiser Speech

At a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that countries like China, Russia, and Japan are struggling economically because of “xenophobia.”

Prior to that comparison, Biden drew parallels between America’s historically immigrant-friendly stance and the economic growth the country has experienced.

“Think about it,” Biden said. “Why is China stalling so bad economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia? Because they’re xenophobic.”

As of publication, news outlets have not reported a response from Japan. The country is celebrating a holiday this week.

Bad Diplomacy?

While Japan may have stricter immigration laws, the country has made efforts to attract foreign skilled workers. In March, the cap was more than doubled, bringing the number up to 800,000 workers. They also replaced an internship program with a new program to train foreign unskilled workers.

According to a 2022 report from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, foreign workers in Japan are mostly from Vietnam, China, and the Philippines. In order to maintain economic growth, the report suggests that Japan will need 6.74 million foreign workers by 2040.

So even if Biden is technically correct, comparing an important US ally like Japan to China or Russia may not be the most graceful diplomatic move.

The current administration has been pushing for stronger security ties with Tokyo to offset China’s influence in the region. Last month, Washington hosted Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a summit and state dinner.


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Aging Population

One of the biggest issues that Japan faces today is its declining population. According to a 2023 report from Mitsui & Co., Japan’s population peaked in 2008 and has been declining ever since. By 2030, nearly 20% of its population will be considered latter-stage elderly.

This threatens Japan’s social security system, medical care, pensions, and more. The report concludes by stressing that economic growth can sustain the increased costs and that Japan’s economy isn’t in danger of collapse. However, the report also concludes that there will be a decline in the working-age population, which raises concerns about regional income disparities.

Japan’s current labor shortages are hitting agriculture, construction, and manufacturing the hardest. Some experts point to the border closings during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the problem. The country’s officials are trying to fix the shortages by encouraging more female workforce participation and pushing for a later retirement age.

Currently, Japan’s population is around 125 million people.

Japan is now the world’s fourth-largest economy, recently falling from third place to Germany.