It is established historical knowledge that the Bank of Japan (1882) was modelled upon the Banque Nationale de Belgique (1850). In this article, I point out how Japan's recurrent frustration with foreign dependence nurtured a social Darwinist view of international politics and finance: Japan's capability to survive in the world was believed to be dependent on its capability to assimilate foreign knowledge and institutions. In the field of finance, Matsukata Masayoshi, Japan's most enlightened financial policy maker at the time, turned to Belgium. I explain that Matsukata was dedicated to the emulation of Belgium's financial infrastructure, in which several public institutions would each be responsible for a specific area of the credit system. I indicate how efforts to adopt Belgian institutions and banking ideas proceeded meticuluously; yet, in the end, Japanese and Belgian finance developed along quite distinct pathways.