A former spokeswoman for Nissan Motor Co. chief Carlos Ghosn is Japan’s new ambassador to Uruguay, becoming the first Japanese woman from the private sector appointed to an ambassadorial post.

“A spokesperson for a company and an ambassador who speaks on behalf of a state have a lot in common,” Keiko Tanaka said during an interview in Tokyo before leaving for the South American country.

Tanaka was on loan to Nissan subsidiary Jatco Ltd. as an executive officer until she retired at the end of September to assume the ambassadorship.

In 1999, Tanaka was selected to be the spokeswoman for Ghosn, who was brought in from France’s Renault S.A. to revitalize the struggling automaker, serving as a bridge between a new boss unfamiliar with Japan and native employees unsure about his reforms.

Tanaka said she believes Nissan was able to recover because Ghosn respected his employees’ opinions and listened to them.

“Since I don’t know much about Uruguay, I will listen to the opinions of Japanese residents there and hold a great deal of discussions with them so I can make a great embassy,” she said.

Tanaka’s favorite subject in high school was English, and she later studied at Sophia University’s Faculty of Foreign Studies in Tokyo.

After joining Nissan in 1984, Tanaka worked in the public relations department for a long time. She also studied at Stanford University in California and worked in Washington for about three years at Nissan North America Inc.

Tanaka said she hopes to promote Japanese companies’ involvement in Uruguay.

Ahead of her departure, she received a congratulatory phone call from Ghosn, who has experience in South America. He reportedly told her Uruguay is the best country on the continent in which to live.

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