Ottery’s man in Japan: Paul to drive Otari link-up

Paul Madden

Paul Madden - Credit: Archant

Former King’s School student appointed as next British Ambassador to Japan

A diplomat from Ottery, who helped establish friendship links with the town’s Japanese namesake, will be using his new appointment to rekindle ties.

Paul Madden, 56, is set to take up the appointment as the next British Ambassador to Japan in January and says his return to the country will represent an opportunity to revisit Otari – a community that has historic ties to his home parish.

A former King’s School student, Mr Madden says it was during a posting in Tokyo, between 1988 and 1992, that coverage of Ottery’s world-famous Tar Barrels event sparked the beginning of a long-standing friendship.

“There was a programme on Japanese television about strange things that foreigners do - and one night they had a piece about bonfire night in Ottery,” said the father-of-three.

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“Someone from Otari saw the piece and contacted the embassy. I got back in touch with them and visited them and then sent some details back to London - people from Ottery then got really interested as well.

“A couple of people from the town council came over to Japan in the early-1990s and the Japanese mayor and people from Otari came over. They timed it to coincide with November 5.”

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The people of Otari presented a Japanese peace bell to Ottery’s community, but the links had pretty much broken down until a group of scouts from the town visited Japan last year and made efforts to rekindle the once-strong friendship. Mr Madden has said his new position can help with this.

Formerly High Commissioner to Australia and Singapore, Mr Madden was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2013 Birthday Honours.

His parents, Tony and Dorrie Madden, still live in Longdogs Lane, where the new Japanese ambassador grew up, before going on to study at the universities of Cambridge, Durham and London.

He went on to work for the Foreign Office for more than 25 years.

Mr Madden will be spending the next few months brushing up on his Japanese language skills, ready to start his new role - where he will play an important part in helping British/Japanese export links, provide assistance to any UK citizens in the country and be on hand in the event of an emergency. With the Rugby World Cup due to be held in Japan in 2019, followed by the Olympics in 2020, the diplomat expects to play a hands-on role in these two events.

One of his most illustrious predecessors, Sir Ernest Satow, who was the UK’s representative in Japan from 1895-1900, retired to Ottery and is buried in the parish churchyard.

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