Former Vice President Joe Biden seemed to suggest Japanese women are only employed because of “xenophobia” while campaigning on Wednesday.
Biden made the bizarre remark to a room full of voters in Spartanburg, South Carolina when discussing the “economic laws of physics.”
“You cannot succeed as a country if you leave more than half of your brainpower on the sidelines,” he said. “Not a joke, not a joke.”
To back up the point, Biden invoked Japan’s decision to abandon cultural norms surrounding women remaining employed after childbirth to counter its declining population.
“Japan is in a position where traditionally women are as well-educated as men, but the tradition was, once they had a child, they were to drop out of the job market,” Biden said, before rambling about his time working with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe — whom he mistakenly refereed to as “President Abe’— in the Obama administration.
When the 76-year-old Biden eventually returned to his point, he attacked Japan as “xenophobic.” Instead of praising the Asian nation for promoting the interest of its citizens in tandem with its economic goals, Biden claimed Japan was only encouraging women to remain in the job market in order to prevent the need to import foreign workers en masse.
“There’s an entire move, because they’re xenophobic — because they don’t want to invite other people from outside their country to come in and make up the workforce — they have fewer workers than they have a need for workers,” Biden said. “And so, what they’ve done is they’ve decided to encourage women to stay in the job market.”
The sentiment, although potentially controversial, is in line with those Biden has expressed on the topic of immigration since announcing his presidential campaign. Earlier this month, while campaigning in Iowa, Biden claimed the United States could afford to import another “two million” immigrants “in a heartbeat.”
Most of the vice president’s arguments in favor of increasing immigration have been made on economic grounds, even though studies have shown flooding the U.S. labor market with low-wage migrants is likely to come at the expense of working-class Americans.
There is also some indication that voters are increasingly aware of the negative affects of immigration on their economic well-being. A recent Harvard/Harris Poll found that a majority of swing voters, as well as voters in nearly every other demographic, are less likely to support a 2020 presidential candidate who wants more illegal and legal immigration.
Biden, however, has remained deaf to such concerns.
“This country can tolerate a heck of a lot more people,” the former vice president said at the second Democrat debate last month. “And the reason we’re the country we are is we’ve been able to cherry-pick from the best of every culture. Immigrants built this country.”