State’s ‘Ireland House’ in Tokyo to cost almost €23m

New building will be biggest ever capital investment by Department of Foreign Affairs

Tokyo, Japan: the country is Ireland’s biggest trading partner in Asia  but it is one of the most expensive locations in the Irish network of 80 overseas diplomatic missions

Tokyo, Japan: the country is Ireland’s biggest trading partner in Asia but it is one of the most expensive locations in the Irish network of 80 overseas diplomatic missions

 

The Government is spending almost €23 million on land and a building to house a new Irish embassy in Japan and other State agencies including Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

The investment in the new “Ireland House” in Tokyo’s central Yotsuya district is the largest capital spend ever made on a single building by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Government’s €7.7 million spend on the purchase of the site represented a 37 per cent discount on the site’s value on the basis that the property was to be used for diplomatic purposes, the department said.

It estimated that a further €15 million will be spent by the State on the construction of the building, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

Japan is Ireland’s biggest trading partner in Asia and the 11th largest in the world but it is also one of the most expensive locations in the Irish network of 80 overseas diplomatic missions.

The department expects payback on its investment over a 20-year period as it currently spends €1.1 million a year renting two buildings and other accommodation for diplomatic staff based in Tokyo.

Cost effective

“This approach is within public spending guidelines on payment on investment by the State,” the department said.

The Ireland House format, accommodating diplomatic, commercial and cultural agencies under the one roof, is seen as a more cost-effective way of representing the State and Irish commercial, cultural and tourism interests overseas.

The format will be rolled out at a number of locations in the expansion of Ireland’s “global footprint” under the Government’s “Global Ireland 2025” plan to add a further 26 embassies and diplomatic missions.

Integrated operations

Just 16 of the 100 Irish State officials employed at Ireland House in New York are Department of Foreign Affairs staff. The building houses the consulate and other State agencies, including Tourism Ireland and IDA Ireland.

Niall Burgess, the secretary general of the department, said the aim of the diplomatic expansion was to “look at integrated operations overseas in buildings that are thoughtfully laid out to serve a wide variety of needs”.

“It is about being more than the sum of your parts and that’s where the Ireland House concept is really important because it is putting resources together,” he said.