For a long time, Japan has prided itself as the first nation to modernize in the region of Asia. Despite the terrible and self-brought defeat in the Second World War, Japan has somehow clung to the title of "the foremost in the region." Until recently, that is.
Now Japan seems to have lost all its confidence. In my own perspective, for someone born and brought up in Japan, this shift in the national psyche is needless to say sad, although admittedly tinged with the excitement of new competitiveness.
Personally, in my own life, I have always enjoyed the game of catching up. My home country losing the position of no.1 is no problem for me, especially as I tend to base the value of my own existence and others' independent from any nationalistic thinking anyway.
Recent travel to Singapore (I just got back to Tokyo this morning) convinced me that now the tropical nation of 5 million people is more advanced than Japan in many respects. Especially as regards the immigration policy. I never understood how it is, but some people in Japan are ultra-conservative about welcoming people from abroad as collaborators in society building. As far as I am concerned, people are people everywhere. There is no reason why people from abroad should not be encouraged to come to Japan and enjoy the opportunity for challenge...in a slightly different way from the ethnic Japanese, perhaps, therefore adding to the diversity of people's traits in the process.
As I have stated, I think Japan is losing its self-confidence. Which is a good thing. One always has the chance of reviewing oneself from the external point of view, when one has a crisis in one's self confidence. Most probably, the time for self-doubt and soul searching has come to Japan.