I live there… the whole respect thing is only a problem if you are Japanese yourself. If you're a gaijin they kinda don't expect you to use the proper language and so on. I was kinda offended by it at first but then just began to embrace it, being a gaijin in Japan is in some ways than being Japanese here. Some people will hate you, others will love you for no reason, it's just something that you have to get used to really.
I've not played either of them, in fact I've not played a Simcity since 2. Should I wait for the server issues to be fixed and then get the new one or pay for 4 for a much reduced price? Does it still hold up?