President Biden on Friday awkwardly hailed Masters golf champion Hideki Matsuyama as a “Japanese boy” during a press conference in the Rose Garden with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Matsuyama, 29, won the Masters Tournament on Sunday at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club.
“Yoshi, I know how proud you are — the people of Japan are — and you’ve got a Japanese boy coming over here and guess what? He won the Masters. He won the Masters. He won the green jacket,” Biden said in the Rose Garden.
“And Matsuyama was the first Japanese player to take home that green jacket at the Masters tournament this week. So let me say congratulations to Japan as well on that feat.”
Biden’s description of the celebrated golfer turned heads online.
“Hideki Matsuyama is 29. Joe Biden just called him a ‘Japanese boy.’ To the Japan PM’s face,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.
“Did Biden just use the term ‘Japanese boy’ to describe a grown ass man? oof,” wrote another.
Biden and Suga spoke privately about tensions with China and also about a rise in reported anti-Asian prejudice in the United States, they told reporters in the Rose Garden.
The Biden administration previously drew outrage from Asian Americans when senior White House adviser Jen O’Malley Dillon brushed off concern from Senate Democrats about the lack of prominent Asian American nominees.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (I-Ill.) vowed to block Biden’s other nominees, saying Dillion made an “incredibly insulting” remark that, ‘Well, we’re very proud of Vice President Harris,’” whose mother was born in India.
Duckworth later backed down when the White House agreed to appoint a prominent in-house Asian-American liaison officer. On Wednesday, that person was revealed to be the relatively obscure Erika Moritsugu, who will serve as a deputy assistant to Biden.
Biden kicked off the Rose Garden event with another awkward remark to Suga, declaring, “The prime minister’s brought the sun out, so we can do about anything.”
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