Pretty interesting read, I have no real knowledge of Japan and I have to say I would've fallen into the category of people that assumed everything was miles ahead in Japan.
I've noticed a few people from HN living in Japan, I'd love to hear what their thoughts are on this.
Software is a good example. Most software and home pages in Japan look like they have been designed by committee, where every person in the room has a pet feature that has to be on the front page. This leads to software that is cluttered and hard to use. There is also little innovation; most new software seems based on designs already in use.
However, there is one aspect where Japan shines. People care about visuals, and graphics and icons are often pleasing. This at least is an advantage in game software, where Japan is not lagging as badly as in business software.
The game software reflects back on the real world. Lots of style but no substance. Example, the typical Japanese offices have very shiny reception area but where the real work gets done is a cramped, uncomfortable place.
Indeed Japan feels like it's run by a committee. I worry that Japan is like General Motors. Some very interesting products, some very passionate capable people, but the culture doesn't allow innovative things to happen.