You knew I was going to go there, didn't you?
From Martin Wolf at the FT on Japan v. US (I'm paraphrasing") :
(1) the asset price bubbles were far smaller in the US than in Japan
(2) US central bank has been swifter in cutting interest rates quickly to close to zero and moving towards “unconventional” monetary policy
(3) debate on fiscal policy in the US have been more neanderthal than in Japan: for example, Obama/Geithner's proposals for a public/private partnership look hopeless. Even if it can be made to work operationally, the prices are likely to be too low to encourage banks to sell or to represent a big taxpayer subsidy to buyers, sellers, or both
(4) Japan didn't have to deal with a global free-fall. It was able to rely on exports to a buoyant world economy.
And, baby, you had me at the chart: