From 1902 until 1923 the British and Japanese were military allies, bound to support each other in the case of a war with more than a single power and a promise of neutrality otherwise. At its signing, this was primarily seen as a way to counterbalance Russia. Japan would eventually fight on the side of the Entente powers in World War I and engage with Germans in Shandong province, China and in its island possessions in the Pacific. It did not ever play any major role in the action on the European mainland.
At least one fictional pre-war novel, however, appears to have imagined circumstances under which Britain’s Japanese ally would come to its aid in the case of a German invasion. The work is Robert William Cole’s The Death Trap (1907) which came to my attention when brought up in Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War.1
I haven’t found a copy of the original2, but there appears to be more on and an extract from this work in Ignatius Frederick Clarke’s The Great War with Germany, 1890-1914: Fictions and Fantasies of the War-to-Come. The brief summary of the conclusion of the novel goes as follows:
Despite the initial German successes and the enemy occupation of London, there is a national uprising directed by Lord Eagleton, the Military Dictator; and then help comes with the arrival of a Japanese fleet—a comvenient [sic], fictional activation of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1905. Tens of thousands of Japanese troops land in Liverpool and hasten south to assist the British insurgents…3
- On page 2 of the work, it is listed among many other works of fiction imagining a German invasion of the British Isles. [↩]
- It doesn’t seem to be in the Harvard library but I put in a request for it through inter-library loan [↩]
- Ignatius Frederick Clarke The Great War with Germany, 1890-1914: Fictions and Fantasies of the War-to-Come, p178. [↩]