I wrote “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” in 1979 to describe some things Japan was doing as well or better than any other country. I believed that we Americans should respond to Japan’s rapid growth by learning from it rather than complaining and launching trade wars. I chose the shocking title to wake Americans up: I did not argue that Japan would be the world’s largest economy, even though many who did not read the book mistakenly took that as my meaning. Many things I described — Japan’s low crime rate, high education level, and the quality of manufacturing and of the welfare system — still exist, as the country faces an election this weekend and choices about its future. But some of Japan’s strengths in 1979, such as the level of loyalty to the company and the quality of bureaucrats, are less true today — and some became weaknesses as its economy entered a new stage.