Kawasaki has been at the back of liter bike/600cc class for several years now, behind the gixxer600, R6, and CBR's...always a pretty comfortable ride, and top speed was usually better than the competition, but just not as quick, nimble, and somewhat on the heavy side.
but the dawn of the new ZX10 and improved ZX12 have really catapaulted back into the race.
Let's not forget. The starter of this was the new 6RR a few years ago, then the 636 or 6R. Now the 10R, and "it's on". Now all Kaw has to do is get some half desent racers to ride the sweet machines of God and start to get some recognition for the awesome bikes.
But as Matt said, they got kinda lazy in the mid to late ninties. Then all all asudden they came out of the woodwork with these awesome machines.