A quarter of century or so ago a friend of mine dumped his American-made car for a Toyota. back then the Japanese were also making alarm clocks and calculators, but that was the first time I'd heard about the Japanese auto quality and that memory has stuck with me ever since.
Over the years I've owned a few different Japanese car models, all used cars. Some have been better than others, but I've been generally satisfied with them. Interestingly I've never owned a Toyota, the paragon of quality in Japanese autos.
It's difficult to see a once unblemished record scuffed by the faulty accelerator issue. I suppose no one is more rattled than Toyota itself. But it would have been naïve not to expect something like this after years of flawless operation. Perhaps the company is now too big, too arrogant, too careless, or too distracted. It's hard to maintain a perfect record year after year while growing at the same time. The laws of probability eventually caught up.
In the end, Toyota will pass through the storm and will become a better company for it but alas its reign won't last. New rivals will emerge, old rivals will rise, tastes will shift, and times will change. It's just the way it is with everything in this world, nothing lasts forever.