Yashiro Masamoto

In September 1998, about an hour before Yashiro's flight from New York to Tokyo touched down, a stranger in seat 1C turned to him and struck up a conversation. The man asked the standard small-talk questions, to which Yashiro offered polite replies: he had worked a long time in the oil business, he said, and then in banking, and was now retired and living in London. Suddenly the man exclaimed, "You must be Masamoto Yashiro! I have been looking for you everywhere!" The man excitedly introduced himself as Tim Collins, the head of Ripplewood, a U.S. investment firm that specialized in restructuring distressed companies. Ripplewood, Collins explained, had just begun to explore investing in businesses recovering from Japan's great asset crash. He was engaged in a crusade to help turn around Japan Inc. and, he said, a number of people had told him that Yashiro was the perfect person to join him on this mission. [+]