It has nothing to do with sportiness. It's just about the approach to hybridization and reducing emissions.The problem is what you said , they are two world different strategies,
The Germans doing that because of there own sporty history, so if they start doing somewhat dull engines, there own heritage and there own market recognition allowing them for that which is totally different for the Japanese whom keep making dull cars from the end of 90s except few examples here and there, so now the Japanese need to do performance to shake there own market recognition towards the luxury and sporty line
Having a higher specific output doesn't suddenly make the engine sportier. By your logic the 2UR-GSE is a dull engine because it 'only' makes 94hp/L. Yes 400hp from 2.0L sounds impressive but it is no more capable (If not less capable) than a 3.0L with 400hp.