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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

22nd February 2021 Tokyo, Japan

Farewell to the Foreign Office

I retire at the end of February, after 32 years in the Foreign Office, and 40 years in public service in total. Just another civil servant moving on from a job. But to me it feels a poignant moment. When I left university in 1980 I wasn’t seeking fame or fortune, which was perhaps just as well, but simply an opportunity to serve my country. I think I’ve had a chance to do so.

Lots of people serve Britain in different ways, from the military to the health service. Mine has been by promoting our interests with overseas countries, particularly in the Indo Pacific, where I’ve been Ambassador in Japan, and High Commissioner in Australia and Singapore. I also served at the Embassy in Washington.

I’ve worked closely with business, promoting UK exports and inward investment, supporting economic growth and jobs – often in the parts of the UK that need them most. I’ve supported our political and security cooperation with partners and allies. I’ve been a climate change negotiator and led the FCO’s public diplomacy work. Perhaps the most rewarding element has been helping individual British citizens, from victims of the Bali bombing to passengers on a COVID-struck cruise ship. Diplomacy is a team game, so you never really know how much difference you’ve made personally, you just try your best.

It was not at all the career I’d expected, growing up in a small town in Devon. I was 21 before I first flew on an aeroplane.  In some ways diplomacy is a funny old life, spending 2/3 of your time overseas, separated from friends and family, including at times your own children, though staying in touch has got easier over the years in the digital age. But the upsides – the variety of experiences, the friends in many different countries , the sense of doing something useful – are great too.

As I leave, I’m pleased to see that the next generation of young diplomats is full of smart, dedicated people from a diverse range of backgrounds, curious about the world, and keen to serve their country.

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.