In April 1902, some two months after the Anglo-Japanese Alliance had been concluded, a Japanese book, entitled Shin no Eikoku, was published. The literal translation of this title was True Britain. The author, Yoshimoto Tadasu (1878-1973) had studied at Oxford and had returned to Japan in the autumn of the previous year. Yoshimoto was the first partially blind person to receive higher education in Japan. Yoshimoto's book brought a new vision of the welfare available to blind people in Japan. Kumagai Tetsutaro (1883-1979), the first blind clergyman, described the tremendous impact of Yoshimoto's book, especially the long chapter concerning the blind in Britain. He referred to it as a dawn bell, proclaiming change for the blind in Japan. 1 Illustrating the advanced welfare provision for the blind in Britain, Yoshimoto suggested that blind people could receive similar benefits even in Japan. The idea that the blind in Britain were treated as citizens came as a great surprise to the Japanese.
Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930), the most prominent Christian thinker in Japan, who later became famous for his opposition to the Russo-Japanese War, wrote the following preface for Yoshimoto's book: 2
Most Japanese who studied in Britain told us the following when they returned to Japan. The power of Britain depends on her wealth, or her capital, which pursues small profits, or her commerce, industry and navy. If Japan had Britain's wealth and battleships, Japan could become the Britain of the East. These words show how envious the Japanese were of Britain's wealth.
However, this is a superficial view of Britain. Britain is a great nation. But Britain's greatness has not been achieved by the huge sum of capital in the same way that a great man does not become great merely by virtue of his property or his rank. Like a great man, a great nation takes care of its poor people, teaches fools and leads the blind. This is the reason why Britain is great, not because of more than 400 warships, nor because of Chamberlain or Cecil Rhodes.