Are Japanese lenses preferred to those made in China?

To people that think lenses are investments, yes. That's because there's a widespread and unsubstantiated belief that "Made in Japan" is better than "Made in China" or "Made in Thailand", which means that used Japanese-made lenses tend to eBay for slightly more money than the same lens made in China or Thailand. In practical terms, quality of a product is more attributable to a company's overall QA programs than point of origin. In that respect, I've not seen or heard of any tangible differences in Nikon lenses that were made in one place versus another. 

Frankly, any such assumption that there must be differences borders on xenophobia. In my own experiences with Nikon products, I've had more out-of-box issues with items manufactured in Japan than in China or Thailand. Overall, however, my answer to the question is: no, there is no rational reason to prefer Japan-made versus China-made Nikkors or Thailand-made DSLRs to Japanese-made.  

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