The legacy of seclusion is not the only historical inheritance of twentieth-century English-language poets responding to Japan. In other circumstances the fascination might have waned, but the Japanese continued to behave in unexpected ways. By 1858 a besieged shogunate had been forced to sign unequal treaties with the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, Russia, and France.  The rallying cry of those opposed to rapprochement with the foreigners was ‘revere the Emperor and expel the barbarians’ (sonnô jôi), but by the spring of 1868, when shogunal authorities surrendered Edo to an army acting in the name of the fifteen-year-old Meiji Emperor, a new cry was in the air, ‘wealthy country and strong arms’ (fukoku kyôhei), and soon the clique in command of the Restoration government, mainly young samurai from the domains that had been most steadfastly anti-foreign, was promulgating a new motto, ‘Civilisation and Enlightenment’ (bunmei kaika), a euphemism for the manners and customs of the West, which from intellectual currents to hairstyles were widely and officially promoted. It was another slogan, however, that most completely characterises the impulses of the time: jôyaku kaisei, ‘revise the unequal treaties’. Attitudes toward the West among the Meiji elite ranged from antipathy to uneasy interest to genuine admiration, but agreement was undivided that if Japan could not expel the barbarians she would at least stand beside them as an equal on the world stage. As most saw it the task was twofold: Western principles of law and behaviour would be adopted so that the foreigners would recognise Japan as a civilised nation and revise the treaties, and institutions and infrastructures would be established so that no such humiliation could befall the country again. The press exhorted readers to give up bad old habits (kyûhei) lest the Westerners think Japan backward, Imperial ordinance required foreign dress at official functions, and municipal authorities advocated the eating of beef,  but also, between 1871 and 1890: the feudal land system was abolished and the class system restructured, an Imperial Army and Navy created and universal conscription prescribed, education, law enforcement, banking, and tax systems reformed, a Supreme Court and National University established, thousands of miles of telegraph lines laid, government by cabinet and bicameral national assembly inaugurated, 1,500 miles of railroads constructed, and a constitution and civil code authored, ratified, and implemented. Perry had opened the door to a pre-industrial civilisation, but within forty years when the West looked at Japan its gaze was met by that of a modern state. 
This did not go unnoticed in the West, but it was a particular part of the enterprise that most particularly engaged attention. A modern state, on the evidence of the Western powers themselves, exercised influence abroad, and to its own ends. The Japanese ‘know . . . well enough . . . that our Christian and humanitarian professions are really nothing but bunkum’, Basil Hall Chamberlain wrote from Tokyo early in the twentieth century, for ‘the history of India, of Egypt, of Turkey, is no secret to them’, and
In 1871 the Kingdom of the Ryûkyûs, a Chinese protectorate since the fourteenth century, was brought under Japanese jurisdiction, and eight years later annexed, to the futile protestations of the Ryûkyûan king and the Ch’ing court. In 1874 an expeditionary force of 3,000 occupied aboriginal territories in Taiwan, ostensibly in retaliation for the murder of shipwrecked Ryûkyûan fishermen, and withdrew only after negotiations in Peking, brokered by Wade, the British Minister, led to Chinese compensation and formal acknowledgement that the action had been just. In 1875 Japanese gunboats traded fire with batteries on shore at a remote Korean outpost, establishing pretext for a larger expedition the following year, three warships commanded by a future Prime Minister ‘fully conscious of the parallel between his own and the Perry expedition’,  whose show of force secured a treaty of commerce and friendship as inequitable as any the Western powers had imposed on Japan. Meiji leaders emerged from civil war in 1877 with consolidated power,  and through the eighties extended Japanese authority in Korea, twice as a result narrowly averting war with China. By the eighties the question of the unequal treaties remained, but had been taken up in wider circles. A former British resident of Yokohama spoke for many when he wrote that ‘in a matter of this kind, it seems impossible for a Christian nation to treat as its equal a nation which has not yet been leavened with the high moral ideas that Christianity alone can impart’,  but by 1889 no less a centre of enlightened opinion than the Times was calling for treaty revision: ‘What conceivable reason is there . . . for excluding such a nation from the comity of civilized States, and condemning it to the stigma of semi-barbarous isolation?’  On 16 July 1894, in no small part the result of Japan’s emergence as a regional power, British representatives in Tokyo signed a revised treaty that called for the end to extraterritoriality in five years, the first of the unequal treaties to be so amended, and nine days later, with Japan ‘now in a better position than before to assert itself in the world arena’,  Japanese warships in the Yellow Sea sank a steamer carrying Chinese conscripts to Korea, 1,300 drowned, and the first Sino-Japanese War was under way, declared officially in Tokyo on 1 August. The West looked on with a measured disapproval,  but also a growing sense of wonder. Japanese forces were outnumbered on land and sea but within seven months had expelled the Chinese from Korea, destroyed the Ch’ing fleet, and were in control of Shantung, crucial Manchurian ports, and the sea lanes leading to Peking. China capitulated in March 1895 and in the Treaty of Shimonoseki ceded to Japan the Liaotung Peninsula, Taiwan, and the Pescadores, along with most-favoured-nation status, four treaty ports, and an indemnity twelvefold the Japanese military budget of 1894. By the end of the century the last of the unequal treaties was revised, and the Times and other determiners of the Western discourse were taking notice of a national progress ‘unexampled in the history of the world’. 
Japan entered the twentieth century the most powerful of Asian states, and in centres of Western opinion was much discussed, but not often in terms that accorded full equality with the Western powers themselves. Meiji leaders had been humiliated after the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki when the tripartite intervention of Russia, France, and Germany forced retrocession of Liaotung to China, and again months later when the Russians themselves occupied the peninsula in Japan’s place. Concerns about Russian expansionism, however, established a link between the policies of Japan and those of another island empire. When the Chinese secret society known in English as the Boxers rampaged against all things foreign in Peking in 1900 British interests were those most under threat,  and in her appeals for help she turned not to the ready Russian army in the north but to the east, and the Meiji government responded with a force of 10,000, the largest contingent of the allied army that occupied Peking and restored order.  Japan’s participation was not without self-interest—the Boxer Protocol of 1901 ended Chinese independence in all but name and accorded the protocol powers the right to maintain forces in Peking—but the intervention of an Asian state acting in behalf of European interests in China was acclaimed in Britain and the United States, and contributed to the emergence of Japan as Britain’s principal ally in Asia, a relation confirmed by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902.  Key clauses specified that if either state should become involved in war with another ‘Power’ the other would remain neutral, but that if a third power joined the hostilities the allies would ‘conduct the war in common’. In practical terms this sanctioned an aggressive Japanese stance toward Russia, which was allied with France, entrenched in Manchuria, and a challenge to Japanese hegemony in Korea, and after a series of unsuccessful negotiations war came suddenly on 8 February 1904 with the surprise Japanese attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, Liaotung. Costly Japanese victories followed on land and sea, the most decisive of which, the Battle of the Sea of Japan celebrated in George Barlow’s poem, culminated in the destruction of the Russian Baltic fleet in the Straits of Tsushima, 27-29 May 1905, by a modern Japanese fleet built in Britain and financed in London and Washington. By the end of the war, marked by the Treaty of Portsmouth the following September, losses on both sides had been horrific, but the Russians were out of southern Manchuria and the Japanese had won Liaotung, the South Manchurian Railroad, half of Sakhalin, and in the West a mixture of admiration, loathing, and fear.
By the autumn of 1905 Japan stood among the colonial powers of the West as an equal, and through the remainder of the Meiji period confirmed the status in a series of diplomatic accords that in effect traded recognition of colonial interests. Renewals of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1905 and 1911 acknowledged British authority in India and pledged its joint defence, and Tokyo recognised French claims to Indochina, Russian to northern Manchuria and Mongolia, and American hegemony in the Philippines, in return for acknowledgement of Japanese interests in her own colonial territories, Korea, southern Manchuria, the Pescadores, and Taiwan. A Japanese protectorate was declared in Korea late in 1905 without Western disapproval, and when Tokyo announced annexation of Korea in 1910 the Yi Emperor’s international appeals for help went unanswered. The Times reported flatly on 25 August that ‘his Majesty’s Government have been apprised of the intended annexation of Korea, to which there is no objection’, and four days later that ‘to-morrow the ancient Empire of Korea will cease to exist’.  The more widely noted event of the London summer of 1910 was the Japan-British Exhibition at Shepherd’s Bush, ‘demonstrating the Arts, Products, and Resources of the Allied Empires’, which between 14 May and 29 October was attended by six million.  Japan fought in support of but not alongside the Western allies in the First World War, and extended her range of influence with the seizure of German-leased territories in China and the Pacific, but in large part her colonial empire was in place when the Meiji Emperor died on 30 July 1912. That day the Times devoted most of two pages to the ‘Eastern Power’, noting that within living memory she had risen ‘from the rank of a petty and despised Oriental State’ to that of ‘the peer of the Great Powers of the Occident’. 
 The treaties ‘represented an infringement of Japanese sovereignty’ because ‘under the system of extraterritoriality, foreign residents were subject to the jurisdiction of their [own] consular [and not Japanese] courts’ and ‘Japanese tariffs were under international [and not Japanese] control’ (Kenneth B. Pyle, ‘Meiji Conservatism’, in The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 5, The Nineteenth Century, ed. Marius B. Jansen [Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989], pp. 688-89).
 George Sansom, The Western World and Japan, pp. 382-85.
 Akira Iriye defines the essential characteristics of the modern state as ‘centralization of state authority’ and ‘mass incorporation into the economy and polity’, and notes that in the nineteenth century such a state ‘by definition’ had armed forces at its command, both to ‘maintain law and order’ internally and ‘to demonstrate national power abroad’ (‘Japan’s Drive to Great-Power Status’, in The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 5, pp. 721, 724-25).
 Basil Hall Chamberlain, Things Japanese, 5th ed. rev. (London: Murray, 1905), pp. 4-5.
 Akira Iriye, ‘Japan’s Drive to Great Power Status’, p. 746.
 The revolt known in English as the Satsuma Rebellion is referred to in Japanese as seinan sensô, ‘the south-western war’, and ‘is rightly considered a civil war’ (Stephen Vlastos, ‘Opposition Movements in Early Meiji’, in The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 5, p. 393).
 William Gray Dixon, The Land of the Morning (Edinburgh: Gemmell, 1882), pp. 125-26.
 ‘The Treaty Drama in Japan’, Times, 19 April 1889, p. 6.
 Akira Iriye, ‘Japan’s Drive to Great Power Status’, p. 764.
 See, for example, ‘The Japanese Declaration of War’, Times, 3 September 1894, p. 4: ‘The reasons given for the course of action by the Japanese Government are not in accordance with facts.’
 ‘The Treaty Negotiations with Japan’, Times, 28 Dec. 1889, p. 6.
 Ian Nish, The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 2d ed. (London: Athlone, 1985), p. 81; Immanuel C. Y. Hsu, ‘Late Ch’ing Foreign Relations’, in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 11, Late Ch’ing, ed. John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980), p. 123.
 Hsu’s analysis of the Boxer uprising traces its effects through the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the Russo-Japanese War (‘Late Ch’ing’, pp. 115-41); remarkably, some recent English-language accounts of the military resolution to the uprising fail to mention the role of the Japanese, leaving the impression that the allied army was made up entirely of forces from the Western nations whose interests were under threat; see, for example, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., Micropaedia, vol. 2, s.v. ‘Boxer Rebellion’, and Macropaedia, vol. 16, pp. 129-30.
 Nish’s Anglo-Japanese Alliance is authoritative; for the English text of the treaty see pp. 216-17, for discussion of public reaction pp. 226-28.
 ‘Japan and Korea—Attitude of the British Government’, Times, 25 August 1910, p. 3; ‘Japan and Korea—The Policy of Annexation’, Times, 29 August, 1910, p. 5.
 Advertisement, Times, 16 May 1910, p. 4; ‘The Japan-British Exhibition’, Times, 29 October 1910, p. 5.
‘Death of the Emperor of Japan’, Times, 30 July 1912, p. 8.