Since the best-selling book "Japan as Number One" came out in 1979, the country has suffered through a diminished global presence and been beaten out in international business competition, according to experts who gathered to look back and evaluate the intervening decades.

Despite the downside, the experts agree the country retains positive aspects, including healthy and long-lived senior citizens, a robust food culture and technological prowess. And they say there are still lessons to be learned from Japan.

The book, written by Ezra Vogel, professor emeritus of Harvard University, explained how Japan had developed into the world's most competitive industrial power and solved internal problems that were plaguing the United States.