Many believe Japan is not the country of the future and I can understand that, but I will believe it when American starts lifting it's own weight instead of gaining weight. Our government at the moment is making us decline greatly and so far us compared to Japan, there is a clear winner.
In many ways Japan represents the future. It has a declining birth rate and population, which happens as countries develop. It has very advanced technology, which also happens as they develop. It also has a very long lived and healthy population. These things are all symbols of future society. While Japan itself may not be "the country" of the future in the sense that Japan is the one single country, it represents what all countries should strive to be in the future.
The US is the country that leads the world in the direction that is good for the US. Japan does have a lot of manufacturing but that works for us. If it did not work, we would not have allowed that to happen in the first place. The US still has superior intellect in the world.
Many countries have been "the one" at some time in the history of the world. To say that Japan is THE country of the future is to say there will never be another after Japan and that is folly. Leading countries of the world have been many, some more than once, some for only a very short time. When a country develops a new way of doing things, or proves they are stronger in some way than other countries, they are on top for the time being. So far in history, this has not been a permanent state of being. Therefore, although Japan's leaders have some good ideas, and they may be on top for a time, they will not be the one and only country of the entire future of the world.
Japan has recently begun to make some changes to boost their economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to be pushing for the Bank of Japan to make changes to aid in the economic recovery and stop deflation. However the changes are too recent to say if they are working or not.
A growing GDP means a growth in the destruction of the environment. Maybe Japan show the world that having a flat GDP and still being happy is possible. I don't think any country will aim for that, but it could be forced on it by circumstances. And that, Japan, I think is definitiely a good candidate for that.