Dr. RITTER NOBEL DIAZ GOMEZ
Born on October 28, 1965 in the town of Chitre, Province of Herrera, Republic of Panama. He attended elementary and high school in his native town, and, in 1984, moved to Panama City to study Law and Political Science at the University of Panama.
Based on his outstanding academic performance, he was selected in 1988 to participate in the Central American Program for Undergraduate Students (CAMPUS), under the Fulbright Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he completed with honors the Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1991.
After obtaining a scholarship from the Japanese government in 1996, he traveled to Japan and entered Tsukuba University as research student, focusing on local government development. In 1998, he began post-graduate studies at the same university, where he received in 2000 the master’s degree in International Political Economy, with emphasis in regional integration.
At the professional level, he worked at Banco General from 1986 to 1988 as Administrative Assistant at the General Services Department and was rehired at the same bank from 1991 to 1993, when he was promoted to Officer Assistant at the Legal and Collection Department. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Head of Credit and Collection Department of Panasonic Latin America in Panama city.
In December 1999, he was appointed Commercial Attaché of the Embassy of Panama to Japan, after completing his master’s degree at Tsukuba University, and began a long diplomatic career in Tokyo. In 2010, he was promoted to the position of Economic Counselor, and in 2014, was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of Panama to Japan and Consul General de Panama in Tokyo.
During his almost 20 years of diplomatic service, he represented Panama in different international meetings such as the Japan-Central American Cooperation and Political Dialogue, East Asia-Latin American and the Caribbean Cooperation Forum, North Pacific Tuna Commission, Meeting of State Port Control Committee, among others, which provided him a valuable experience in international negotiations as well as an extensive network of contacts.
In his capacity as Ambassador, he actively promoted the negotiation of two important agreements between Panama and Japan, namely, the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) to prevent tax evasion and a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to build and finance the construction of the Line 3 of Metro de Panama, utilizing Japanese monorail technology. So far, this MOC is a unique scheme between both countries in the area of public transport and became the largest cooperation project of Japan in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
As Consul, he managed to promote the first maritime dialogue between the Panama Maritime Authority and the Panama Canal Authority with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan with the purpose of cooperating in different maritime issues at the bilateral and international levels. This dialogue also contributed to a smooth communication between the high Panama maritime authorities and the Japanese shipping community.
At the political level, he increased the number of members of the Japan-Panama Inter-Parliamentary League from 14 to over 60, strengthening political relations between Panama and Japan, and increasing the access to the highest level of Japanese government.
As a Head of Mission, he was also able to promote academic exchange agreements between Chiba University and Panama University as well as Panama Technological University in the field of Controlled Environment Agriculture. It became the first agreement between Japanese and Panama universities, sending over 25 Panamanian students to Japan and 20 Japanese students to Panama to further expand their academic and international experience.
In his capacity as Economic Counsellor, and with experience from the private sector, he promoted the introduction of Panamanian products such as specialty coffee and rum in the Japanese market and coordinated the participation of Panamanian enterprises in several trade and tourist fairs, gaining ample experience in products promotion and event coordination. He also organized tourist seminars with major Japanese travel agencies at the official residence, which contributed to the increase from 4,000 to more than 5,000 Japanese tourists travelling to Panama.
He also demonstrated a great capacity in risk management and humanitarian assistance during the Great Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Accident that hit the Tohoku region of Japan in March 2011. At that time, he played a fundamental role in the successful evacuation of more than 50 Panamanian citizens who were residing in the affected areas. He also volunteered himself to support the cleaning efforts of the city of Ishinomaki, which was seriously damaged by the quake.
In view of this outstanding academic and professional performance, he has received several awards such as the Certificate for Scholastic Achievement of the Fulbright Program (1991), the Excellence Award of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2009), the Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Chiba (2019), and the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun by the government of Japan.
Currently, he serves as an independent consultant in Tokyo, advising companies how to conduct business between Japan and Latin America in the areas of export/import, tourism, financial services, real estate and governmental relations. He also represents several Panamanian companies in Japan and is a founding partner of Contacto Japan Travel in Tokyo. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Japan Association for the Promotion of Latin America and Caribbean (JAPOLAC).