Japan's life expectancy at birth grew by 4.2 years - to 83 years from 78.8 years between 1989 and 2009. Some lost decade. This means that Japanese now typically live 4.8 years longer than Americans. The NYT stated that the key factor was better health care. Here in the US the health care is worse and less accessible.
Internet infrastructure? Of the 50 cities with the fastest internet service in the world 38 are in Japan while only 3 are in the US. From the end of 1989 the Yen has risen 87% against the US dollar. Unemployment rate is 4.2% about half that of the US. 81 high rise buildings, that is above 500 feet, have been constructed in Tokyo since the "lost decade" began. That figure compares with 64 in New York, 48 in Chicago and 7 in Los Angeles.
Japan's current account surplus totaled $196 billion in 2010 up more than three fold since 1989. By comparison America's current account deficit ballooned to $471 billion from $99 billion over that same time span.
The NYT goes on: "Japan has not missed a beat in building an ever more sophisticated industrial base. That this is not more obvious is a tribute in part to the fact that manufacturers have graduated to making so-called producers goods. These typically consist of advanced components or materials or precision production equipment. They may be invisible to the consumer , yet without them the modern world literally would not exist. This sort of manufacturing, which is both highly capital intensive and know-how-intensive, was virtually monopolized by the US in the 1950's and 1960's and constituted the essence of American economic leadership."
This achievement of Japan is even more impressive when we see the rise of the South East Asian nations especially China. US imperialism is steaming its high tech aircraft carriers around the China sea while Japanese capitalism is wiping the floor with it in the heart of its industrial and technological base. This is not to say Japanese capitalism is wonderful by any means. We only have to think of the recent earthquake/tsunami and the building of the nuclear plants in extremely dangerous areas. But what it is to say is that US capitalism is in a weaker and weaker position and tries to hide this with its mass censorship. But it cannot do so because in the real day to day lives of working class people in the US the crisis of US capitalism is being felt daily in cuts and more cuts on living standards.
On top of the economic crisis it faces, on top of loosing grounds to its rivals such as Japanese and also the Chinese economy, US capitalism is just now beginning to face a rising movement of its own youth and working class and doing so with a political system which is decrepit and rotten and corrupt and discredited. There will be very dangerous times ahead, but also very great opportunities for the US working class to rise to its feet. In doing so it will seek to throw off the confusion it faces from the censorship of the capitalist mass media and the refusal of its own leaders to lead and put an alternative.