I grew up during the era when Japan was the place from which came our cheap plastic crap. My friends and me would laugh derisively at anything inscribed 'made in Japan' . We, along with the rest of the world, were more than a little impressed by Japan's evolution as a powerhouse economy and producer of high quality precision goods. I'm certain I never considered that the whole thing could go so far in the wrong direction and so quickly. Sure, the Japanese still manufacture much of the highly sought after goods in the world from cameras to automobiles. However, their organization, dedication to detail, and discipline have apparently not saved them from the same greed, poor planning, reckless spending, and half-baked economics that other first world nations practiced. The list of such nations would include, most notably, the U.S.A.
This sobering piece by NPR is worth a look: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/01/28/133310924/why-you-should-be-afraid-of-japan