I'm spending about 50% of my time in Japan these days. I've been traveling there for years both for personal and business reasons.
In the mid-90's, I started noting the dissonance between the reality of Japan and the portrayal in the press. By my observation, Japan is one of the most advanced societies in the world - longest life expectancy, universal literacy, unbelievably safe streets, and so forth. Great place to live, which is why they have to be such hawks on immigration enforcement.
As a final thought, since Japan opened up in the mid-1800's, other than a brief time in the 1980's, it has always been underestimated by foreigners. Things may seem a little quiescent there now, but the next big leap forward (and that is how Japan typically progresses, incidentally) is going to be this robotics stuff.
This is all great, except for the robotics stuff. Like all AI related technologies, robotics is complete bullshit. AI is a pipedream, along with all the singluarities and assorted Snow Crash fantasies. Robots are creations of man, and they aren't any smarter than the men who created them. Usually dumber, but faster at doing the specific tasks they are programmed to do. I'm not holding my breath.