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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Japan

16th July 2019 Tokyo, Japan

Japan in East Anglia

Paul and Prof Simon Kaner with Jomon Fire Flame Vessel
Prof Simon Kaner with Jomon Fire Flame Vessel

As an Ambassador, I enjoy occasionally getting the chance to visit different regions of the UK, and find out more about their links with Japan. This week I was in East Anglia.

Prof Mickey Adolphson shows medieval Japanese manuscript at Cambridge
Prof Mickey Adolphson shows medieval Japanese manuscript at Cambridge

I began in Cambridge, calling on Professor Mickey Adolphson, the Head of the Japanese Department in the University’s Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies. I had previously welcomed him in Tokyo when he was visiting with the Vice Chancellor earlier in the year. He introduced me to a number of his colleagues and it was fascinating to learn how many different aspects of Japan are covered in the Department, from politics to literature and medieval history to environmental and social issues.

As we walked through the bright sunshine to the University Library, I reflected how Cambridge seemed much more thronged with tourists than in my student days there 40 years ago. At the Library, one of the world’s great research libraries, Prof Adolphson showed me a collection of medieval Japanese documents that the University had recently acquired. The 13th century text was impossible for me to read, as it used highly stylised archaic characters and grammar.

From medieval texts to 21st century microchips. I visited the semiconductor and software design company, Arm Holdings, a jewel in the UK’s high tech crown, acquired by Japan’s SoftBank in 2016 for £24bn. I had accompanied Chancellor Philip Hammond in a call on SoftBank President Masa Son, in Tokyo last month. SoftBank appears on track to meet their commitment to double their UK employment.

It was also a great pleasure to visit Fordham Abbey, near Ely, where the Hashimoto family of Dojima Sake, have established a sake brewery, producing rare British sake. We sampled their two varieties, which tasted pretty good to me. Mrs Kiyomi Hashimoto explained her impressive plans to turn the site into a wide-ranging Japanese cultural experience, with a Japanese garden, restaurant, onsen and pottery studio with resident potters from Japan.

Dojima sake brewery
Dojima sake brewery

The next day I was in Norwich. I visited the University of East Anglia’s leafy campus, to meet some of their Japanese faculty, and also had the chance to see some of the Japanese collection within their stunning Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Prof Simon Kaner, head of Japan studies at UEA, and an archaeologist, showed me some of the Jomon era artefacts on display.

We walked through the cobbled streets in Norwich’s medieval city centre, to the beautiful Cathedral close, home to the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC)where Simon is Executive Director. I gave a talk about UK/Japan relations to a lively group of young scholars from a range of Central European countries, and answered their excellent questions.

I also visited Norwich University of the Arts, where Vice Chancellor Prof John Last briefed me on NUA’s relationship with the Nagaoka Institute of Design in Niigata, which has led to to a number of student and faculty exchange programmes.

It was fascinating to see how many links there are between East Anglia and Japan, and to get a feel for just how international the faculties of our universities are. I met academics from a wide range of countries. It was also a reminder of the beautiful architecture of East Anglia – Norwich was our second largest city in the Middle Ages, thanks to the wool industry.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.