I found this in a Usenet (rec.autos.tech) thread titled “Yes, there is a difference between American and Japanese cars.” The difference, suggests a fellow identified as “Brent,” is more philosophical than physical:
Japanese companies don’t understand a particular irrationality of americans. Americans by and large expect something to be done immediately… they don’t care about details such as if it fixes the problem or not… or even if makes things worse, they want something done. This is why we have the TSA, tire pressure monitors, countless government programs and agencies, tons of regulation, various wars in progress, and so on… because people want something ‘done about it’ and the US government takes full advantage. Essentially americans want to see a fix, no matter how slip shod or more damaging than the original problem immediately. That is if the attempt to cover up the problem failed.
Japanese culture on the other hand tends to cause people to deny there is a problem in the first place and then quietly fix it hoping nobody will notice. The fix will generally be a reasonable step or kludge that actually does at the very least make things better. Even when it doesn’t things don’t usually get worse and nobody seems to use it as a chance to expand their power. There is a sense of shame there was an error or problem in the first place.
This explains much about the Toyota “unintended acceleration” debacle, in which dozens of our aggrieved countrymen insisted it could not be floor-mat placement or, worse, driver error: something had to be wrong with the electronic throttle. Government research determined otherwise, but that made no difference to the aggrieved.
Then again, Americans always clamor for their day in court, and we didn’t get to be the world volume leader in litigation by telling would-be plaintiffs that their complaints have no merit.
And on the larger scale, this is how the government grew from manageable to unwieldy to Leviathan: voters demanded that something be done about Problem X, and the candidates proposed Action A or Action B, regardless of whether A or B had any relevance to X or of whether either A or B could possibly work. (Whether the Constitution permits any action at all is never even considered.) The candidate that says “Government doesn’t need to be involved in this sort of thing” goes home in third place, or worse, on election day.