japan

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when (something) sneezes, (something else) catches a cold

When a person, group, or entity has a problem or experiences a negative situation, a related person, group, or entity will consequently have a worse problem or will experience a more negative situation. When Paris sneezes, Europe catches a cold. Terrorism in France affects security throughout the continent.
See also: catch, cold
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

when the US/UK/China, etc. sneezes, Japan/Germany, etc. catches cold

or

when the US/UK/China, etc. sneezes, Japan/Germany, etc. catches a cold

mainly BRITISH
If you say that when a particular country sneezes, another catches cold, or catches a cold, you mean that what happens to the first country has a great effect or influence on the second. And when the American economy sneezes, the City of London catches cold. As they say, when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.
See also: catch, cold, japan, UK
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in classic literature ?
Needless to say, Japan was prepared to furnish that management.
But best of all, from the standpoint of Japan, the Chinese was a kindred race.
And so Japan took upon herself the management of China.
This is an important port of call in the Pacific, where all the mail-steamers, and those carrying travellers between North America, China, Japan, and the Oriental islands put in.
Priests were passing in processions, beating their dreary tambourines; police and custom-house officers with pointed hats encrusted with lac and carrying two sabres hung to their waists; soldiers, clad in blue cotton with white stripes, and bearing guns; the Mikado's guards, enveloped in silken doubles, hauberks and coats of mail; and numbers of military folk of all ranks--for the military profession is as much respected in Japan as it is despised in China--went hither and thither in groups and pairs.
But to bring this long turn of our affairs to a conclusion; the first thing we had to do was to consult with the captain of the ship, and with his men, and know if they were willing to go to Japan. While I was doing this, the young man whom my nephew had left with me as my companion came up, and told me that he thought that voyage promised very fair, and that there was a great prospect of advantage, and he would be very glad if I undertook it; but that if I would not, and would give him leave, he would go as a merchant, or as I pleased to order him; that if ever he came to England, and I was there and alive, he would render me a faithful account of his success, which should be as much mine as I pleased.
If my partner, who was no way concerned with my young man, made him such an offer, I could not do less than offer him the same; and all the ship's company being willing to go with him, we made over half the ship to him in property, and took a writing from him, obliging him to account for the other, and away he went to Japan. The Japan merchant proved a very punctual, honest man to him: protected him at Japan, and got him a licence to come on shore, which the Europeans in general have not lately obtained.
Haven't I told you of the sudden cessation of the war alarm in Japan, when once she was assured, by means which she could not mistrust, that it was not the intention of the American nation to make war upon her?
"I want to know how Japan became assured that America had no intention of going to war with her.
We may expect to meet Death Larsen on the Japan coast.