After having spent a bit of time in Japan, there's a few things that the US could probably learn from them. First of all, the real estate crisis and aging population was seen in Japan many years before it hit the US and is part of what caused them to be in a state of deflation with near 0% interest rates for so many years. The main reason I hear that we don't end up the same way is that we have a growing population, but that seems mostly due to immigration.
Another thing Japan does different from the US and we seem to be trying to head toward is health insurance is required. When I went to get my alien registration card I noticed the sign that said if I don't have health insurance, I will be required to buy the government run one. We don't have the government run health insurance, but I'm not sure what kind of cost their government run insurance creates. They are saddled with debt as well and it'd be interesting to know how much cost this program puts on the government. I've also heard that their health insurance companies are NPOs, which could be interesting to try in the US.
For energy and green ideas, we seem a bit behind the times here too. First of all, our cars are entirely too big and consume too much gas. Something like the smart car isn't a safety hazard in Japan cause all the other cars on the road are fairly small too, including the trucks. The buses are usually the biggest vehicles on the road by far. Added to that, their mass transit system is way ahead of us in coverage, convenience, and punctuality. I tried taking the bus from Binghamton to Poughkeepsie, but never again. Absolutely dreadful. The trains are also not only faster, but nicer.
Nuclear power also seems to be fairly widespread in Japan. I have noticed some windmills as well, but not nearly as many as in Europe. I think one of the energy resources that work for Japan though is the geothermal energy. With all their on-sens, this seems to be a naturally rich source of energy for them that's not in limited supply. If Brazil and Japan have figured out native sources of energy, why can't we?
Energy conservation also seemed to be bigger in Japan. The AC at work is not cranked nearly as high there as it is here. There's a fixed almost uncomfortable temperature of the office during the summer and everyone uses hand fans at times. In the bathroom there's no paper towels. There's an air blower but most people carry a handkerchief for drying their hands. They don't observe daylight savings either... and they don't know why we do.
As far as CEO compensation goes, my understanding was that it is not nearly as out of control there as it is here. I'm not sure how that gets controlled though. Could it be that the shareholders and populace in general is a bit more frugal when it comes to finances and so they can't get away with the outrageous stuff they get away with here?