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They are both very congested, even more congested than many Chinese cities.
I don't know about Japan, but in the US, traffic jam is totally diffrent from Beijing: in Beijing, it's like cars are not moving at all - it's faster to walk than to drive! In the US, it's moving slowly (at least from what I've seen in New York and in Chicago). However, Beijing is just an extreme case - other Chinese cities are much better. In Chengdu, for instance, traffic jams occur only twice a day on a few lanes and you can avoid them if you know the city.
However, even if there are no traffic jams, traffic in China is much slower than in the west - there are much more traffic lights and much less tunnels, cars have to take care of people and bicycle even on the main roads (ok, this got better in Beijing in some places now, but it's still a pain - and in other cities, it's a disaster). So what the goverment really could do would be strictly seperate cars from other traffic participants on the main lanes and build real motorways to and from city center. Moreover, of course, it should enforce traffic law more strictly, so people don't just drive however they want.