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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

22nd February 2021 Tokyo, Japan

Farewell to Japan

I leave Japan at the end of February on completion of my term as Ambassador. It was also my first posting as a young diplomat, so it’s rather an appropriate place to be ending my career in.

I have been fascinated by Japan since 1983, when I visited on a study tour, after winning an essay contest sponsored by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Learning the language on the Foreign Office training programme at London University’s SOAS, and the Embassy’s Kamakura school, was hard work. But it was a great asset for working here, and helps you to understand the culture as well as the language.

Japan’s bubble economy in the late 80s, was a heady time, as the country rapidly internationalised. It was the beginning of the wave of Japanese investment in the UK, which now employs some 150,000 people in Britain. Back then, Japan ran huge trade surpluses with the UK, today our £32 billion bilateral trade is broadly in balance – quite a turnaround.

During my four years here, the UK/Japan relationship has continued to go from strength to strength, particularly in the field of maritime security, with regular visits by the Royal Navy. We’ve also signed a new bilateral trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and Japan is actively supporting our application to join the CPTPP regional trade pact. Japan will be a hugely important partner as the UK increasingly tilts towards Indo Pacific.

The first three years of my time as Ambassador here were packed with activity, visitors and travel. Highlights included accompanying the Prince of Wales to the Enthronement of the new Emperor, and watching England reach the final of the Rugby World Cup. My final year has been very different, overshadowed by COVID, and the different kind of work that involved, including organising the evacuation from the Diamond Princess cruiseship. Generally though, Japan has experienced much lower rates of infection and fatalities than comparator countries.

I managed to fulfil my ambition to visit all Japan’s 47 prefectures, from snow-covered Hokkaido to sub-tropical Okinawa. It’s an island nation of coastline, mountains and lakes and much natural beauty, as well as an enormously rich culture and history. What a privilege to be able to see so much of it. Japan will always be part of my life. I’m handing over to my good friend Julia Longbottom, who will be our first female ambassador in Tokyo. Have fun Julia.

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.