Comparing periods regarding Japanese equipment is a quickly losing battle. At no point in world history has the Japanese archipelago held superior military equipment. They've had to make do with inferior ores, less of them, and greater cultural homogeneity. Japanese armors were always heavier, less maneuverable and less protective, and their weapons follow suit.
Of course. Japan always has been an island nation, too small to show up on the radars of foreign empires. Foreign empires who by contrast were always at each others' throats, and facilitated the constant innovation and improvement of warfare technology. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. Having said that, they were still comparing equipment that were split by a millenium-wide time gap. However backward 6th century Japanese technology was compared to 6th century tech elsewhere, it's still unfair to compare it to something that came around over a thousand years later.
Yes, western society has no legends at all of mystical all-encompassing organizations working behind the scenes. The lack of evidence of their existence only means they are that much more powerful.
Yeah, I see that.
But I'm not using it as a measure of power, but as a measure of infamy. Pirates and ninja take entirely different approaches to doing what they do; one makes damn sure you know who's attacking you, the other prefers their victims to have no idea. Asking who does it better will only ever result in a battle of opinion. Comparing ninja to the Illuminati might not fit particularly well, but that only serves to illustrate my point; that it's still more apt than comparing to pirates. May as well compare red with blue.