Joe Biden claims Japanese women stay in workforce only because of 'xenophobia'
The leading Democrat contender for president just insulted our closest ally in Asia, especially its female workforce, in an ignorant bit of attempted drive-by sociology. In a rambling stream-of-consciousness monologue delivered to a town hall audience in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Biden spouted half-baked notions of the social dynamic of female employment in Japan. I doubt he realized as he was speaking that Spartanburg has received significant Japanese investment in production facilities, including a $1-billion high-tech carbon fiber plant that local officials touted as a "'game-changer' for Spartanburg County, raising income levels and the quality of life for local residents," five years ago.
It will require just a minute of your time to watch Biden make a fool of himself:
Let's unpack his statements, using Breitbart's transcription of his remarks:
"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 referred to as "President Abe" — in the Obama administration.
Actually, no. Women were not "traditionally" as well-educated as men. That is a rather new development in Japan's social history. During the Meiji and Taisho eras, women began to receive higher education, but it wasn't until the end of World War II and the Allied Occupation that female participation in higher education really took off.
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."
Actually, no, once again. Women started staying on the work force for entire careers long before Japan's population started shrinking for reasons related to personal fulfillment and career opportunities, not at all related to Biden's putative claim of xenophobia. In fact, the cratering birthrate in Japan is driven by these same factors. Fewer Japanese women want children because they do not relish the traditional role of a daughter-in-law being bossed around by her husband's mother, and because they prefer the money and personal fulfillment of a career to the life of a mother raising her children while caring for her in-laws.
I spent decades researching, teaching (at Harvard and Columbia Universities), and consulting on Japanese business, society, and culture, and I know these issues well, particularly as they developed in the last five decades. Biden is full of it.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).