Executives of Japan’s top 200 corporations were recently given a survey in which they were asked the following question: “Who in the past millennium of world history would you choose to help Japan solve its present financial crisis?”

Receiving more mention than any other figure was a man who is today remembered as a swaggering swordsman, a pistol-packing outlaw, the leader of a renegade band of riotous samurai who overthrew the shogunate — and one of the most colorful figures in Japanese history.

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