A HIKE in rent for diplomat’s €46k-a-month home in Tokyo
How the MoS broke the rent story last autumn
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