Japan is back, China is over.

Only a few years ago, such an assertion would have been dismissed out of hand. Beijing was on the road to economic dominance and Tokyo languished, characterized by endless stimulus that produced little tangible benefit, and doomed by a shrinking population. This narrative was overdue for a correction, and an alternative has finally arrived. Unfortunately, it shares some of the old story's flaws.

The contemporary crush on Japan has much to commend it. Wages are gathering steam, the Nikkei 225 stock index recently surpassed the peak reached in the late 1980s — when the nation was seen as having some magic sauce that drove its ascent — and the central bank is preparing to end the world's last remaining experiment in negative interest rates.