Japanese firms resist hiring foreign workers under new immigration law – poll

Significant culture change:

Only one in four Japanese companies plan to actively employ foreign workers under a new government immigration scheme, a Reuters poll found, complicating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to ease the country’s tightest job market in decades.

And the bulk of the firms that may hire these immigrants do not plan to support them in securing housing, learning Japanese language skills or getting information on living in Japan, the Reuters Corporate Survey showed.

The survey results underscore the challenge for Japan to cope with its dwindling and ageing population that has put pressure on the government to relax tight foreign labour controls. Immigration has long been taboo here as many Japanese prize ethnic homogeneity.

The lack of language ability, cultural gap, costs of training, mismatches in skills and the fact that many foreign workers cannot stay permanently in Japan under the new system were among factors behind corporate wariness about hiring foreign workers, the Reuters poll showed.

The law, which took effect in April, creates two new categories of visas for blue-collar workers in 14 sectors such as construction and nursing care, which face a labour crunch. It is meant to attract up to 345,000 blue-collar workers to Japan over five years.

But the survey suggests the government may struggle to get the workers it needs to ease the country’s labour shortage where there are now 1.63 jobs available for every job seeker, the most since the beginning of 1974.

“Taking education costs, quality risks and yields into account, costs will go up” by hiring foreign workers, wrote a manager at a rubber-making company, who said the firm has no plans to hire foreign workers.

“We have failed in the past by employing foreign workers who could not blend in with a different culture,” a manager of a metal-products maker wrote.

Some 41% of firms are not considering hiring foreigners at all, 34% are not planning to hire many and 26% intend to hire such foreign workers, the survey conducted from May 8-17 showed.

Of those considering hiring foreign workers, a majority said they have no plans to support them in areas such as housing, Japanese language study and information on living in the country, it showed.

The survey, conducted monthly for Reuters by Nikkei Research, polled 477 large- and mid-size firms, with managers responding on condition of anonymity. Around 220 answered the questions on foreign workers.

Under the new law, a category of “specified skilled workers” can stay for up to five years but cannot bring family members. The other category is for more skilled foreigners who can bring relatives and be eligible to stay longer.

While foreign workers are generally viewed as cheap labour in Japan, 77% of firms see no change in wage levels at Japan Inc as a whole, when hiring specified skilled workers. Some 16% expect wages to decline and just 6 percent see wages rising.

Foreign workers “will help ease the labour crunch, bringing down overall wages,” a steelmaker manager wrote in the survey.

Abe, whose conservative base fears a rise in crime and a threat to the country’s social fabric, has insisted that the new law does not constitute an “immigration policy.”

Japan has about 1.28 million foreign workers – more than double the figure a decade ago but still just 2% of the workforce. Some 260,000 of them are trainees from countries such as Vietnam and China who can stay three to five years.

Source: Japanese firms resist hiring foreign workers under new immigration law – poll

1 in 5 Canadian youths not sure what happened in the Holocaust, survey suggests

Whenever one asks a question about historical events, no matter how important, the level of ignorance is depressing:

One in five young people in Canada either hasn’t heard of the Holocaust or isn’t sure what it is.

That’s the conclusion from a new survey released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday.

Historians believe the new data should be a wake-up call on how the systematic murder of six million Jews in Europe is taught in Canadian schools — and remembered more broadly.

“One of the surprising things was the awareness gap between millennials and older respondents …it’s shocking,” said historian Naomi Azrieli, CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, the charity behind the survey.

“I think older Canadians are more likely to have known a survivor or been around in World War Two,” she told CBC News. “With each generation, it becomes less living history and more remote.”

In Britain, a new survey by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust found that one in 20 adults in Britain do not believe the Holocaust took place.

The survey of more than 2,000 people released Sunday also found that nearly two-thirds of respondents either did not know how many Jews had been murdered or greatly underestimated the number killed during the Holocaust.

Chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman described the results as “widespread ignorance and even denial.”

While there are debates among historians about exactly when the Holocaust began, the mass killing of Jews in the Second World War started in 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, according to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and continued until the Nazis were defeated in 1945.

Held on Jan. 27 annually following a United Nations resolution, International Holocaust Remembrance Day coincides with the day Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest complex of Nazi death camps, was liberated by Soviet forces in 1945.

Among other points, the Canadian survey found:

• Nearly six in 10 Canadians (57 per cent) said fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.

• 15 per cent of Canadian adults and more than one fifth of Canadians under age 34 (22 per cent) haven’t heard about or are not sure if they have heard about the Holocaust.

• Nearly half of Canadian respondents (49 per cent) couldn’t name a single concentration camp. That’s roughly equal to the U.S., where 45 per cent couldn’t name one in a similar survey last year. There were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust.

A crew member walks toward the National Holocaust Monument before the official opening in Ottawa on Sept. 27, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

• Nearly one quarter of all Canadians (23 per cent) believe substantially fewer than six million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust, while another 24 per cent were unsure of how many were killed.

• Few Canadians believe there are many neo-Nazis in Canada today, while nearly half think there are many in the U.S. In fact, on a per capita basis, the two countries have roughly the same number of neo-Nazis, Azrieli said.

Reasons for optimism

With offices in Toronto, Montreal and Israel, the Azrieli Foundation commissioned Schoen Consulting to carry out the survey based on 1,100 interviews with Canadians over age 18 in September 2018. The margin of error was plus or minus three per cent.

While Azrieli was disappointed by the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, especially among younger Canadians, she said the survey also offered plenty reasons for optimism.

More than 80 per cent of respondents believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school and 85 per cent said it’s crucial to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it doesn’t happen again.

Azrieli wants to see a more comprehensive approach to how the Holocaust is taught in schools, potentially involving special professional development days for teachers to become more acquainted with its history.

With only around 5,000 Holocaust survivors alive in Canada today to tell their own stories about the mass killings, she said it’s more crucial than ever that schools and other institutions develop strong programs to teach the subject.

False beliefs

The need for better Holocaust education is especially intense due to rising anti-Semitic sentiment in much of the world, said Azrieli, whose father survived the Holocaust.

Since last year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, an 85-year-old French Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, was fatally stabbed in Paris and 11 Jews were gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue during Shabbat services, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Human Rights First, a U.S. organization, recalled those killings and warned that “today’s threats do not come solely from the fringe.”

“In places such as Hungary and Poland, once proudly democratic nations, government leaders are travelling the road to authoritarianism,” said Ira Forman, the group’s senior adviser for combating anti-Semitism. “As they do so, they are distorting history to spin a fable about their nations and the Holocaust.”

In Canada, hate crimes rose to an all-time high in 2017, according to a Statistics Canada report released in November. For hate crimes based on religion, Jews were the most targeted group in Canada, with more than 300 incidents reported to police.

Nearly one-third of survey respondents believed Canada had an open immigration policy for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe.

In fact, Canada had “one of the worst immigration records in the world” related to Jewish people, “worse than the U.S. or U.K.,” Azrieli said.

Canada allowed only 5,000 Jewish refugees into the country while allowing nearly 2,000 Nazi war criminals to immigrate to Canada after the Second World War, the Azrieli Foundation reported.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Canadian border guards had a saying about Jewish refugees, she said: “None is too many.”

Survey respondents thought Canada had been more welcoming toward Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, as they considered Canada to be generally more open toward immigrants than other nations, given the country’s current policies.

“That was a very interesting finding of this survey,” said Azrieli, “And an important indication that our own history is not well known to most Canadians.”

Reevely: Carleton loses fight to keep survey of Jewish students secret

Amazing. No matter what the findings, the bigger story becomes Carleton’s efforts to hide them:

Carleton University has to stop hiding a survey of Jewish students meant to find out how they feel about life on campus, a panel of senior judges says. Well, how they felt about life on campus at the beginning of this decade. Carleton’s been fighting for five years to keep the survey from public view.

When the case finally made it to court this week, three judges of Ontario Divisional Court took one day to laugh the university’s arguments off. They heard the case last Tuesday and told Carleton to stop screwing around on Wednesday, in a ruling that observes that Carleton’s lawyer could point to no precedents for its secrecy and had no evidence supporting its more outlandish claims about what might happen if it lost. (Full disclosure: I have a degree from Carleton. Fuller disclosure: About once a year, Carleton as an institution does something so at odds with the values it teaches that I cringe.) This survey was done for an internal commission set up by then-president Roseann Runte in 2010 to look at how various minority groups were treated at Carleton. The point of striking a commission — this one included several dozen people, from students to senior administrators to outside volunteers — is usually to get to the bottom of a serious problem in the most open way possible. Air all the dirty laundry. Get everything out there so we can start fixing problems.

The commission’s work was a bit of a mishmash, since the “inter-cultural, inter-religious and inter-racial relations on campus” it was supposed to look at are incredibly diverse and complicated. But its report in 2012 highlighted some standout problems on campus: legitimate debates about Israel too often spilled over into anti-Semitism, or into discussions where they didn’t belong both in classrooms and faculty meetings; and Indigenous students felt stereotyped and sometimes didn’t have help they needed adapting to university life.

The commission’s most important data-gathering came in surveys — one campus-wide one and narrower followups to dig into the first big survey’s findings. The final report includes a detailed summary of the big survey, including what questions it asked, what the response rates were (barely 10 per cent among students, and 30 per cent among Carleton staff), how members of particular groups found their Carleton experiences more satisfactory or less.

The report didn’t do the same for a follow-up survey of Jewish students and staff. “Respondents to the survey (of Jews at Carleton) participated on the condition of anonymity and therefore the results have not been distributed,” the commission report said. That’s it. This is a non-standard definition of “anonymity.” You can release results of a survey without revealing who said what. A university, of all places, should have this capability.

In 2013, someone (the person’s name isn’t in the court decision) filed an access-to-information request for the commission’s materials, including the raw results of the surveys and details of how they were conducted, and minutes from the commission’s two years’ worth of meetings.

“The university submits that the requester seeks the information to challenge the findings of the commission,” this week’s court ruling says. Which is neither here nor there — if documents are public, they’re public. A government institution doesn’t get to keep public information back just because it doesn’t like what a member of the public might do with it.

The survey is research, Carleton argued. The minutes of the commission’s meetings are related to research. We don’t have to give out research. Among other things, it wouldn’t release “the survey (of Jewish students) and its results, and an explanation of the survey methodology, who designed the survey, who approved the survey, how it was conducted, who analyzed the survey results.”

Ontario post-secondary institutions are covered by provincial public-information law but they can hold back material “respecting or associated with research conducted or proposed by an employee of an educational institution or by a person associated with an educational institution.” The idea is that if every lab note from every PhD student were open to public release, competitors would spend half their time nosing around each other’s work and answering requests instead of researching.

The law covers academic research, not stuff a university does that’s like any other corporation, the judges decided: “(T)he survey results and associated information are akin to market research which is not particular to universities and is not subject to the specific concerns of academic freedom articulated by the legislators.”

The university’s lawyer “was unable to provide a single decision where information gathered internally by a university for its own purposes and unrelated to academic research was covered by (the) research exemption,” the judges pointed out.

The university argued that releasing this information will make all university research harder and harm Carleton’s competitiveness. “No evidence was adduced to substantiate this claim,” the judges observed, using legalese for “Lawyer, please.”

Carleton’s conduct here is embarrassing for a public institution that set out to address problems on campus by talking about them openly. The fact it took five years for Carleton to get slapped down is embarrassing for Ontario’s access-to-information system. Both need to work better than they have.

Source: Reevely: Carleton loses fight to keep survey of Jewish students secret

EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries

Will be interesting to see the results. Would be also nice to have an equivalent survey with respect to Muslim citizens and residents and their experiences with racism and discrimination (FRA may have already done this):

Jewish citizens and residents of 13 European Union member states are being urged to fill out on an online survey detailing their personal experiences with antisemitism, as part of a new EU initiative to combat hatred and prejudice toward Jews.

The survey, launched earlier this month, has been organized by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in association with two UK-based institutions — the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), a think tank located in London, and the polling organization Ipsos.

A statement from the FRA said that the goal of the survey was to compile “comparable data on the experiences, perceptions and views of discrimination and hate crime victimization of persons who self-identify as Jewish on the basis of their religion, ethnicity or any other reason.”

The survey is being conducted in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. As well as completing the survey in their national languages, respondents also have the option to submit their answers in Hebrew — a reflection, perhaps, of the growing presence of Israeli émigré communities in cities like Berlin and Paris.

Judith Russell — development director of the JPR — told the French Jewish newspaper Actualité Juive that her institute had carried out a similar survey in 9 European countries in 2012, with positive results.

“The results of the 2012 study prompted the European Commission to appoint a coordinator in the fight against antisemitism, and to agree on the definition of the word ‘antisemitism’ on a European level,” Russell remarked.  “This new survey can still drive new solutions at European level.”

The survey asks respondents for their opinions about general trends in antisemitism — for example, whether they feel that there has been an increase in antisemitic statements by elected politicians — as well personal experiences of antisemitism at work or at school, or in public places. Initial results are scheduled for release in November.

Source: EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries