I think it actually makes sense that the Japanese would be bad at explaining things like this. You have a language that prides itself on being vague, where the more specific you are about things, the more you have the potential for being rude.
I think that some of that culture may be changing however. I actually gave a presentation in California last week to a room of senior IT folks from various Japanese corporations and they asked almost fifteen minutes of detailed questions after my thirty minute presentation. I was genuinely surprised.
Japan has an advanced, technology-driven economy. There's nothing inherently vague about the language: it can be as precise as any Western language when the situation calls for it.
OTOH, the difference between technical Japanese and literary Japanese is quite dramatic. I'm only a very beginning student of the language, but I find technical Japanese much easier to read. The vocabulary is harder, but it largely dispenses with the grammatical constructs that give literary Japanese its layers.
Was your audience composed of people based in California, or in Japan? My Japanese friends here in the US seem to appreciate American directness.