A HIKE in rent for diplo­mat’s €46k-a-month home in Tokyo

How the MoS broke the rent story last au­tumn

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Ken Foxe news@mailon­sun­day.ie

THE De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs has been hit with a hike on the al­ready eye-wa­ter­ing €46,000a-month rent it was pay­ing for the Ir­ish Am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Ja­pan.

But own­ers of the prop­erty had wanted to raise the rent even more – by a whop­ping 13% at one stage, but were per­suaded to lower their de­mand to just over 9%.

With the ne­go­ti­ated hike, the cost of the lease over the next three years will now come in at an es­ti­mated €1.69 mil­lion, or just over €47,000-a-month ac­cord­ing to De­part­men­tal records.

There was some re­lief for the Ir­ish tax­payer in that the fig­ure which worked out at a €1,000 in­crease could have been even higher if not for a dra­matic fall in the value of the yen against the euro over the last twelve months.

The De­part­ment used ad­verse pub­lic­ity back home sur­round­ing the sky-high lease as part of their ne­go­ti­a­tions to bring the in­crease down from 13%.

In­ter­nal emails re­leased fol­low­ing a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (FOI) re­quest re­veal the in­tense sen­si­tiv­ity within the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs over the ne­go­ti­a­tions ear­lier this year.

A mes­sage from Am­bas­sador Anne Bar­ring­ton said a pre­lim­i­nary de­mand from the land­lord, Mori Build­ing, had been turned down. She wrote: ‘We re­jected this and asked to keep the rent un­changed, ex­plain­ing the is­sue of FoI [pub­lic­ity] and cur­rent fis­cal re­straints.’ In an email to the am­bas­sador, one of her di­plo­matic staff said: ‘I ex­plained [to the land­lords the FOI] is­sue we have been fac­ing, and our sit­u­a­tion to be un­able to ac­cept the rent in­crease.

‘Then I strongly re­quested them to keep the rent un­changed for a term of three years or five years.’

The land­lords re­turned with a 9.4% in­crease, which Ms Bar­ring­ton de­cided was ‘rea­son­able’, tak­ing into ac­count mar­ket trends in the Ja­panese cap­i­tal. She said that given Ja­pan’s strate­gic im­por­tance to Ire­land, the in­crease only un­der­lined the need for the De­part­ment ‘to own prop­erty in Tokyo’.

A De­part­men­tal sub­mis­sion also said there would be an ad­di­tional prob­lem if Ir­ish diplo­mats de­parted the prop­erty, as they were un­der con­tract to re­turn it to its orig­i­nal lay­out. ‘There are on­go­ing dis­cus­sions on devel­op­ing a site in Tokyo to co-lo­cate the Chancery and the Res­i­dence. If this pro­ceeds, it is un­likely to be com­pleted in less than three years.’

Last year, when the MoS first re­vealed the eye-wa­ter­ing rent on her res­i­dence, Am­bas­sador Bar­ring­ton com­plained to the Ir­ish Times that her hus­band’s, Ed Mi­lano’s, pri­vacy, had been vi­o­lated, sug­gest­ing she may make a com­plaint to the Press Om­buds­man. This has still to be made. Shortly af­ter their ar­ti­cle, the Ir­ish Times fol­lowed up with a clarification which read: ‘An ar­ti­cle in last Thurs­day’s edi­tion stated that Ed Mil­iano, hus­band of Anne Bar­ring­ton… is a de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor. Mr Mil­iano is an artist.’

‘fis­cal lim­its’: Am­bas­sador Anne Bar­ring­ton

sky-high: The build­ing which houses the res­i­dence in Tokyo

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