The graphic above accompanies Martin Wolf's latest Financial Times column, ("Japan’s lessons for a world of balance-sheet deflation"), and he uses it to make the point that, although the balance sheet deflation in the U.S. is a lot shallower than Japan's, the crisis is a lot broader today because it's global, i.e., Japan was still able to increase its exports (and thus ameliorate its economic situation) during its "lost decade" because there was healthy demand for those exports in countries with strong economies.
Another point Wolf makes is about the relative effectiveness of Japanese fiscal policy during its "lost decade":
[T]hose who argue that the Japanese government’s fiscal expansion failed are, again, mistaken. When the private sector tries to repay debt over many years, a country has three options: let the government do the borrowing; expand net exports; or let the economy collapse in a downward spiral of mass bankruptcy.
Despite a loss in wealth of three times GDP and a shift of 20 per cent of GDP in the financial balance of the corporate sector, from deficits into surpluses, Japan did not suffer a depression. This was a triumph. The explanation was the big fiscal deficits. When, in 1997, the Hashimoto government tried to reduce the fiscal deficits, the economy collapsed and actual fiscal deficits rose.
Something to consider when reading comments on various blogs about how Japan spent a lot of expensive infrastructure and still had a "lost decade".