According to the Catholic order, Nicolas was born in Spain in 1936 and became a novice in the province Toledo in 1953.
He studied theology in Tokyo, where he was ordained a priest in 1967.
Nicolas became professor for systematic theology in Tokyo four years later.
Between 1978 and 1984 Nicolas was director of the pastoral institute of Manila, and in 2004 became moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.
Here is some biographical information about Father General, from the official communique:
Born in Palencia (in Spain) on 29 April 1936.
Entered the Jesuit novitiate at Aranjuez in the Toletana Province (Spain) in 1953
Received his Licentiate in Philosophy in 1960 at Alcalá, Madrid and then studied theology in Tokyo.
Ordained a priest on 17 March 1967 in Tokyo.
From 1968-1971 completed his master's degree in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Professor of systematic theology at Sophia University in Tokyo beginning in 1971.
Director of the Pastoral Institute of Manila (1978-1984).
Rector of the Jesuit scholasticate (training young Jesuits) in Tokyo (1991-1993).
Provincial of Japan (1993-1999).
Since 2004 he has been the moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.
Father General speaks Spanish, Japanese, English, French and Italian.
And a comment from your correspondent in New York...
Today, every one of the almost 20,000 Jesuits has a new leader. And each of those Jesuits will, at some point today, pray in thanksgiving to God for the election of Father Nicolas, the man who succeeds the estimable Father Kolvenbach. Also, every Jesuit, young and old, will be devouring information about their new Superior General for clues about his outlook on the future of the Society of Jesus.
Interestingly, like Father Nicolas, Pedro Arrupe, the Superior General before Father Kolvenbach, had also been Provincial of Japan, something that helped Father Arrupe understand the world, and the church, from a non-European perspective. Father Nicolas, a distinguished theologian, has spent most of his Jesuit life in the Far East, has been responsible for training young Jesuits, and also has had much experience in governance and administration. The delegates have chosen a man with a solid background in theology, extensive experience in a country that is largely non-Christian, and an admirable combination of administrative skills, to lead them into the 21st century.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
James Martin, SJ