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Whoever could pass a test to list ‘values at the heart of being Japanese’?

by Roger Pulvers

Special To The Japan Times

Calling all those readers who in their heart of hearts have always wanted to be British! Well, you’ve got your chance now, you presumptuous Penny-Laners and putative Pythons.

That chance comes courtesy of a test known as “The Stonehenge Plunge,” which last year 150,000 wannabes took to become subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

But be warned: The Home Office in Britain has recently revised the questions. Now you will be required to demonstrate your profound knowledge of “the values and principles at the heart of being British” — as well as identify the people “who have contributed to making Britain great.”

Sample questions include the following:

What is the official flag of the United Kingdom? Which admiral has a monument in Trafalgar Square, London? What name is usually given to the second-largest party in the House of Commons? (Expletives must be deleted when answering this question.)

I have taken the liberty of writing to the Home Office to suggest a most critical question concerning the future of the British Isles. If you don’t get this right, you haven’t got a prayer of being true-blue British.

What is the nearest continent to the U.K.?

Of course, I provided multiple-choice answers, being a) the European Continent; b) Australia, popularly known as Lord Lucan’s Retreat; and c) North America.

The correct answer is, needless to say, c), seeing as the Big W of foreign and domestic policy today is not Whitehall but Washington.

I can further reveal here that similar tests are being prepared in other countries for those aspiring to citizenship.

In the United States, the core questions are a) how many rounds can be shot from a semi-automatic weapon without reloading; b) which state has the most people awaiting execution; and a tricky one, c) how many Republicans does it take to stuff a ballot box?

The most difficult question on the new Russian citizenship test is: What did Vladimir Putin say to George W. Bush when they met for the first time? Multiple choices are a) I admire your balls; b) I admire your oil wells; c) I admire your vice president. The answer to this question had not been issued from the Kremlin when this column went to print, but my spies tell me it is “all of the above.”

The toughest question on the Chinese citizenship test is this: Who coined the phrase, “I’d rather be crying in the back seat of a BMW than smiling on the seat of a bicycle”? Multiple choices are: a) Confucius; b) Bo Xilai; and c) Lance Armstrong. Confucius said just about everything, Bo Xilai said nothing and Lance Armstrong said only what he decided to say — which alone makes him ideally suited to Chinese citizenship.

Now, we all know that it’s the devil’s own job to become a citizen of Japan. Of course, legally it’s not such a palaver. The problem is that no Japanese will accept you or your descendants as Japanese for six generations. But rest assured: You’re not being discriminated against because you were once a foreigner, only because you’re here. Japanese don’t accept other Japanese from outside their native region for six generations either. Once you’re over that hurdle, you’re treated as coldly as everyone else.

I have been privy, thanks to connections in the Abe Cabinet that go far above the prime minister, to the questions on the so-called 2013 Japanese Citizenship and Exodus Test. As its name suggests, the test is going to be given not only to foreigners desirous of becoming Japanese, but also to any Japanese leaving this country — even salarymen going on their two-night three-day grand tour of Europe for their annual holiday.

Testing-stations are soon to be set up at all air and sea ports to weed out and send back Japanese who refuse to be “ambassadors of truth.”

These are the questions. Good luck, prospective proto-Japanese and lazy leavers.

Is the national currency of Japan a) the yen; b) the Hello Kitty sticker; c) the U.S. $?

This is a deceptive one, but the answer is, of course, c). Japan is now buying up so many of these that soon ex-Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi will be appearing cheek-to-cheek with Benjamin Franklin on the Fully Convertible Soft-Top $100 bill.

As history is crucial to a country’s past, there will be questions on this too.

As a top official in the Rekishi Shuseisho (Ministry for Historical Modification) put it recently, “If we don’t make up our own version of the past, we won’t be able to stop others from telling us what we did.”

Moving quickly away from history, the key question in the legal field is a true/false one: Is the Constitution of Japan a word-for-word translation of the U.S. Constitution?

The answer to this is “true.” A spokesman for the Kenpo Shuseisho (Ministry for Constitutional Modification) clarified the fact that U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a famous scholar of ancient and modern Japanese language and culture, and an expert on the checkered history of the corncob pipe, translated it overnight on his flight from Manila to Tokyo in September 1945.

He omitted Article 2 of the Bill of Rights, however, because he didn’t want to get shot.

Not all questions are political in nature. There’s this one, for instance: What is the national animal of Japan? The choices are a) the panda; b) the skewered chicken; c) the whale.

And the answer is: c). That’s why the Japanese want to bring as many of them here as possible. Think of it like a policy of repatriating dead soldiers. (The new national flag of Japan, dear reader, is going to be the Mori-no-Maru (Harpoon Maru), known in Japan from Sakhalin to Singapore as “The Flag of the Sinking Harpoon.”)

The Japanese have always been open to borrowing things from other countries. This being the case, one question on Japan’s new test is the same as one on the U.K.’s test, namely: What name is usually given to the second-largest party in the Diet?

Multiple choices for this are: a) the Insufficient Bribers Party; b) the All We Need Do Is Pretend To Oppose Because We Don’t Need Our Own Policies Party; and c) there is no second-largest party in Japan, there are only third-largest, fourth-largest, fifth-largest, sixth-largest and seventh-largest parties.

The obvious answer to anyone who knows the first thing about this country is b). Elections are not about policies, stupid. They’re not even about who’s running for office. They’re about the amount of money you can take out of the pockets of ordinary people and insert into the pockets of the rich without the former knowing about it or the latter acknowledging it.

All of the above proves that it’s not easy being a citizen of any country, unless you remain blissfully ignorant of the facts of your country’s past as well as those of your own existence in the present.

Why on Earth anybody would want to become the citizen of another country is beyond me. It’s bad enough being one of your own.

  • johnny cassidy

    This really reeks like The Onion. I get the satire (I think) but is the manner in which it’s served up appropriate for a serious newspaper that purports to deliver “all the news without fear or favor?” Would other Times’ print an imaginative work like this without somehow alerting readers to its lack of veracity? No, I think not. Never would those spineless journalistic jellyfishes at the NY, LA, or Sunday Times dare cross the line that the Japan Times so artfully traverses with ease here. I find the lax editorial style very refreshing – or perhaps that’s just The Onion vapors talking.