NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- China and Europe continue to be the standout points of contention as we prepare to close the book on the first quarter of 2012. On a lighter note, however, major United States equity indices have managed to maintain their footing at historical and psychologically important levels. The Nasdaq, for instance, is seeing its strongest first quarter since 1998.While the Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average have become the poster children of strength over the past few months, they are not the only high fliers. On the contrary, in 2012, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index has also carved out a leadership role, surpassing the S&P 500 on a year-to-date basis. According to a report from Bloomberg, this rally has allowed it to power to its highest level since 2011's devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.