if you've played ffIV and ffVI and ff tactics you've played three of the best games ever. i don't think any western rpg comes close to matching any of those games. the only rpg even close to as good as ffVI in my opinion is chrono trigger, and it just so happens that those two are generally considered the two best rpgs ever.
i think of jrpg's as normal rpgs. they were around way before western rpgs. i mean when did western rpgs start coming out in any number? last gen wasn't it? i love jrpgs but western rpgs are good too. i'd like it if some rpgs started incorporating elements of both. i think kotor is the best western rpg and that game is amazing. but some highly tauted western rpg's just pale in comparison to good jrpgs. the original fable was good but there are literally dozens of jrpgs better. and i don't really see how oblivion is interesting at all. it'd be cool if jrpgs implemented some more character customization elements like wrpgs and more branching options (like dialogue choices and the whole good/evil dichotomy in some games). i definitely don't like the wrpgs system of short main quests with a bunch of side quests. rpgs are supposed to be long epic games, not a main quest that you can beat in 20 hours and then just a bunch of other things to do that players hopefully use to fill up time. not saying side quests are bad but they should be what their name implies, on the side, extra, not something that unless you do all of them you're not gonna have a very long adventure.
Western rpgs that would have things in common with JRPG games were coming out in the eighties: SSI's Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Champions of Krynn, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands and the earlier Ultima games (notably IV-VI) came out from the early eighties to the late nineties. Also, I think certain of the Western adventure games from the same era had an influence on JRPGs. Series like King's Quest from Sierra where the characters played such an integral role in the game. Everytime I look at FFVII it reminds me of a King's Quest game. The last and greatest expression of this form of Western JRPG was probably Bioware's Baldur's Gate games in the late nineties.
The popularity of mmos in my opinion led to the downfall of this much better genre of rpg in the early years of this decade much as the rise of shooters unfortunately led to the downfall of adventure games early in the last decade. Thankfully, Bioware did continue making these types of games on the original xbox with KOTOR and have continued to the present time.
The other school of Western rpgs which I feel draws from the first-person corridor crawling games also began in the seveties through eighties with Richard Garriot's Akalabeth, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, and Might and Magic. And apparently they also started to make a come back in the last gen as you said with Morrowind on the original xbox and PC and they have somehow gained quite a following as seen in more recent games like Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Two Worlds.
If JRPGs were to disappear overnight, I guess I would have to be very thankful to Bioware, Fable, and The Witcher for continuing on the more storytelling form of the Western RPG, because even though Computer Gaming World did include several of the first-person corridor crawlers in their Hall of Fame back in the day (I think Wizardry and Dungeon Master both made it), I personally always found these games to be unplayable and as a result I haven't tried to play any of them in their modern incarnations.
Also certain Western fantasy based rts games are more like jrpgs than are the second group of western rpgs I outline above. Games like Warcraft III and maybe The Heroes of Might and Magic games are quite a bit like Jrpgs imo.
Heavens to Murgatoids.