- Japan’s No. 2 cybersecurity official has let slip – in parliament – that he has never used a computer.
- Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, is the deputy chief of the government’s cybersecurity strategy office and he is also the minister in charge of the the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which Japan will host.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe handpicked Sakurada last month to lead Japan’s cyberspace defences and Olympic cyber-preparations.
Japan’s recently appointed cybersecurity and Olympics minister has told parliament he has never used a computer in his life, though it’s his job to oversee cybersecurity for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Yoshitaka Sakurada, is the deputy chief of Japan’s vaunted cybersecurity strategy office and is also the minister in charge of the Olympic Games that Tokyo will host in 2020.
Depite these responsibilities, Sakurada has admitted that he has never used a computer, and is more or less baffled by the very idea of a USB drive and what it might do, according to a report the Guardian published on Wednesday.
It all began last month.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promoted Sakurada, 68, to the joint posts in October, despite his left-field selection having never held a Cabinet position before during his 18 years in Japan’s Diet or parliament.
It was in the Diet, on Wednesday however, Sakurada came clean and admitted he is not a big computer person.
According to local media, the newly appointed minister made the admission at a parliamentary committee meeting when an opposition politician asked Sakurada a fairly routine are-you-computer-literate question.
His response catches in a nutshell concerns that some Japanese lawmakers are growing desperately out of touch in a rapidly ageing nation.
“I’ve been independent since I was 25 and have always directed my staff and secretaries to do that kind of thing,” Sakurada replied.
“I’ve never used a computer.”
Sakurada was answering questions from Masato Imai, an independent Lower House lawmaker.
When pursued by the concerned lawmaker about how a man lacking computer skills could be in charge of cybersecurity, Sakurada said he was confident there would be no problems.
“It’s shocking to me that someone who hasn’t even touched computers is responsible for dealing with cybersecurity policies,” Imai said.
He also appeared confused by the question when asked about whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities.
Sakurada also said “he doesn’t know the details” when a member of the Democratic Party for the People, asked him about what measures he had in place against cyberattacks on Japan’s nuclear power plants.
The countdown may already be on for Sakurada in his official role.
According to the Japan Times this is not the first time Sakurada has been in hot water.
At a Lower House Budget Committee meeting Sakurada stumbled and obfuscated when answering simple questions about his organising committee’s three policy pillars for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also the games’ budget.
The debate was punctuated with lengthy interruptions as the luckless minister turned to and relied almost entirely on his aides to answer the basic questions.
Sakurada apologised for his performance and the indignity to the Diet four days later.
He may not have gotten the email.