Japan isn't going to end decades of economic malaise, nor will its corporations meet the challenge of overseas rivals, unless bold changes are made, warns an expert on leadership from Harvard University who was in Japan recently to give a series of lectures.

"You must have people with vision and bigger sense of purpose than the interest of your own political parties," said Dean Williams, lecturer on leadership and public policy director at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, speaking about Japanese politics. "You've got to support those who are really willing to make changes."

The scholar was in Japan earlier this month to give lessons on leadership to students, businesspeople and public servants, shortly before the Liberal Democratic Party swept back to power.