Yes and no, Ray. The kana letterforms are the same for sure, but progressive teaching of kanji (unavoidably) rather complicates that story. What makes it particularly interesting is that kana-only books have interword spacing, whereas mixed script books don't.
So you could argue that the space character is an infant letterform in Japan!
An experienced designer, working alone, can in under six months create a new font that covers dozens of Western languages. For a single Chinese font it takes a team of several designers at least two years.