Really? My bro in laws old 59 plate diesel Golf needs a new Turbo at 60k miles.
That's probably more to do with the way the car's been looked after than anything.
In my experience of having always driven old bangers, Japanese cars are great. Especially old ones. Many of them were way ahead of their time. They've levelled out a fair bit in recent years, but old Toyotas, Nissans, stuff like that, they go forever when looked after.
All cars have their common faults. Some bigger than others, so whatever you look at, look them up beforehand. But there's some good'n's out there. Especially big barges. They're cheap as chips.
The last thing I would buy is anything British. Closely followed by anything French (Peugeots might be OK to be fair....no real experience of them myself).