Due to the fact the JAPS and the chinese have their Government Financial helping them at every level of operation and then ours DOES NOT.. The media never says that at all..
I think Japan gets national health care. You are correct. The media and commentators tend to brow beat the union car worker. I'm not thrilled with alot of unions and mentality but when your employer has a huge expense the competition doesn't that will affect your job security.
BUT setting the benefit/health care thing aside many importers are still make a superior quality product(in many cases) and in quantity. The Americans also used an antiquated dealer franchise system and let the competition march right in without legitimately countering them. The first problem was that the Japanese were labeled brilliant for their smaller fuel efficient cars when in fact they were importing a car designed for a smaller oriental person in a different enviorment. Perception was everything. You still sit low and cramped in mamy import models. The Toyota Corolla hasn't changed their interior in over a decade. You still sit low in a Honda to this very day.
Planned obsolesence has killed American car manufacturers as well living off new big ticket product not learning or wanting to capitalize on the parts and service market steering the US consumer into a new car. You can run Japanese cars especially the better part of ten years before major mechanical problem. They used to rust or fair poor in an accident but they don't even do that anymore. My last new American car gave me major trouble the 4th year of a 3 year warranty with mechanical timing issues and paint and interior fabric falling off.
But yes: the foreign competition is that of an entire nation and not just a company. But that's what's makes us free I guess, lack of dependence on the government.