In Japanese, the word for "foreign country" means literally "outnation". But to many American and Japanese, it is Japan itself that, despite its rising influence in world affairs, is the outsider - "The Outnation". In this rigourous and searching journey through Japan's islands and institutions, Richard Rauch finds that today's Japan is strikingly and often surprisingly familiar. Economically it's similar to America in the days of the great cartels and company towns, with a high-tech update. Politically, it's Mayor Daley's Chicago raised to a national scale and its values, far from being alien to the West are Plato's own.