Dewi Sukarno, nee Naoko Nemoto, 68, is the widow of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno. When she married him in 1959, the then 19-year-old Japanese beauty was no accidental Cinderella: From age 5, she had meticulously prepared herself for a leading role in history. Much like Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the 16th-century daimyo who catapulted himself from humble beginnings to the nation's most powerful post, the cultivated Dewi rose to the challenge to support Sukarno's nation-building. The pair established strong ties between Japan and Indonesia, but following assassination attempts, a military coup and ultimately her husband's death in 1970, Dewi went into exile from Indonesia. By the '80s, though, she was back in Jakarta working on major deals for American and European engineering and construction contractors. After 40 years abroad, in 1999, she moved to Tokyo, where she runs several companies and charities, and a household where 11 dogs chase staff and guests around.

Dewi SukarnoDewi Sukarno JUDIT KAWAGUCHI PHOTO

Words will capture a woman's heart faster than riches. I could have married many wealthy men before I met Sukarno. But he asked me to be his inspiration, his strength, and the joy of his life. I knew I would never hear such poetic words again even if I lived to be 100. So I dedicated my life to him.