Diplomat may go to ombudsman over reports on Tokyo house
Ambassador says article falsely implied €45,000-a-month residence used for business
The Motoazabu Hills block in Azabu, Tokyo. Irish Ambassador to Japan Anne Barrington’s husband Ed Miliano said the residence in the block was his home address.
Ambassador Anne Barrington and her husband, Ed Miliano, an artist, said an article in the Irish Mail on Sunday falsely implied he used the residence for business. *
Mr Miliano said the residence was his home address in Tokyo but he rented a studio for work in the city.
The couple said the newspaper had violated Mr Miliano’s privacy and caused him stress and embarrassment. “While attacking civil servants may now be considered fair game, attacking their families crosses a line which is unacceptable,” said Ms Barrington. “We are considering our options on this.”
The article questioned the rent for the Ambassador’s residence, which is 5.1 million yen a month (about €45,000).
It boasts a 418sq m private living quarters, with two master bedrooms, two guest bedrooms, and a two-bedroom apartment for domestic staff. The rest is “representational space” for entertaining guests, including a large diningroom and kitchen.
The Irish Embassy said about 30 to 40 events are hosted annually at the residence. These events “are often in partnership with the State agencies to promote Ireland as an investment location, a tourism destination and an exporter of excellence”, it said in a statement.
Most hosting and entertaining, including a breakfast meeting this week for visiting Minister of State for Financial Service Eoghan Murphy, is done at the Azabu residence.
Rent for the residence is roughly within local market rates. The lease on the property commenced in 2002 and is due for review in 2017.
“It’s quite rare to find an apartment in Tokyo with a huge entertainment space,” said an Embassy spokesman. “In the rental market, we feel we have good value.”
Tokyo property prices plummeted following the global banking crisis of 2008 and subsequent economic downturn. The Embassy said negotiations the following year with the landlord reduced core rents.
While some property managers suggested the Embassy could have possibly negotiated a steeper cut, Ms Barrington insisted the real estate crash did not transfer to the rental market to the same extent.
“When the lease started in 2002, the rent was JPY5,450,000. It went up by 4 per cent from 2002 to 2009 while the rental market was up by 20-30 per cent during the same period. So the 10 per cent reduction secured after a negotiation in 2009 was considered acceptable,” she said.
Ms Barrington said the Embassy is looking for a compound that would integrate diplomats’ apartments with other Embassy functions. “We’re hoping to do it in such a way that it would become an asset to the State, and not leave us swinging in the wind when the rent changes,” she said.
* This article was amended on September 30th, 2016