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Japan’s cybersecurity minister stuns nation: ‘I’ve never used a computer’

Former President Ma meets Yoshitaka Sakurada, Deputy Secretary-General of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party. (Taiwan Presidential Office/Flickr)
November 19, 2018

Japan’s cybersecurity minister made a confession last week – he’s never used a computer.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, who currently serves as deputy chief of Japan’s cybersecurity strategy department, told the Japanese Parliament that he has delegated his staff to do computer tasks, never having used a computer himself in the past 43 years of his career, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

“Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself,” he said.

Opposition members asked Sakurada if USB drives were among the computer equipment used at nuclear facilities in Japan, a question that left him confused.

“It’s unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cybersecurity policies,” said opposition lawmaker Masato Imai.

“It’s a matter that should be dealt with by the government as a whole. I am confident that I am not at fault,” Sakurada replied to lawmakers’ surprise, according to Gizmodo.

Sakurada has only held his position as cybersecurity minister for a month. Previously, he served in city governments and was a House of Representatives member since 1996.

He also serves as minister of the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which have involved a few public gaffes.

Sakurada recently claimed at a news conference that he was “unaware” of plans for the North Korean sports minister to meet with Japanese officials in Tokyo, thus violating a ban prohibiting North Korea officials from entering the country.

An aide pulled Sakurada aside during the conference, causing Sakurada to change his tune and say that he was aware of the meeting.

He also said he wasn’t aware that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been asked by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to permit North Koreans to participate in the 2020 Olympic games.

“This is not something I should be meddling in, in my capacity,” Sakurada said. “It’s beyond my jurisdiction.”

He also misstated the amount of funding Japan would contribute to the 2020 Olympics, saying the total was “1,500 yen” an amount equivalent of $13, when the amount was actually 150 billion yen.

In a separate parliament incident, he also blamed a gaffe on not knowing the questions prior to answering them.

“Since there was no prior notice about the questions, I had no idea what would be asked at the session,” he said.

Japanese lawmakers have been less than pleased with Sakurada’s performance, causing him to become a target for opposition leaders’ attacks. It’s unclear if this could cause yet another reshuffling of the cabinet that would soon find Sakurada in another position.