Post-war Japan consolidated power in the ruling party. People were educated to be obedient. Harmony was maintained by co-opting or disabling people or organizations that could threaten the system. Diversity in the media, a strong judiciary, diversity in education and political diversity were stifled for the purpose of maintaining harmony. This harmony that once protected the happiness of the citizens of Japan is now the primary barrier to change.
Ito argues that "a revolution is required" in order to put Japan on the right path. My impression is that deference to authority is still a strong component of the Japanese culture. While in the United States, Time Magazine honored three "whistleblowers" as its Person of the Year for 2002, I suspect that Japan is not ready to celebrate ordinary people who embarrass senior leaders.
For Discussion: If the inability to challenge the bureaucracy has thwarted Japan's transition from manufacturing-led growth, how will China manage such a transition when that becomes necessary?