I read about this some time ago. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I was wondering about it, I realized then that Japanese has a way to achieve greatness.
There are 3 guiding ideologies that defines Japanese work ethic, that if followed will result in greatness.
1. Perfection: This means making no mistake. Refusal to accept inferior effort. If you know something isn't perfect, then strive to do better next time. This has been abused by the idea of "best". There is no best thing. Only pros and cons. There is no silver bullet. There is no ultimate magic wand that you can wave and achieve the ultimate. But you can certainly note your mistakes and resolve to fix them and not repeat them in the future.
2. Constant improvement: Always learning. Always adding new skills to the toolbox. Just as there is no single best thing, having a wide assortment of skills allows you to pick and choose the best tool for the job. Some people would go for the minimum. Others, stop when they reach maximum. Within the minimum and the maximum range, lies the acceptable performance level. However, greatness comes from achieving, then exceeding the maximum level.
3. I don't remember what the third one is, but I believe it is Discipline. Discipline can be construed as hard work, and certainly many people take it as such. However, I choose to take it as good habit forming. "You are what you frequently do. Therefore, greatness isn't a matter of ideals, but of habits" said Aristotles.