Yoshitaka Sakurada

Japan’s new cyber-security minister admits he’s never used a computer

Image credit: reuters

Japan’s recently appointed cybersecurity and Olympics minister (pictured) has admitted that he has never used a computer before and is confused about the security implications of USB sticks.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, told parliament he has never used a computer in his life, although he is responsible for overseeing cyber-security preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

He was named to the two posts last month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, having never held a cabinet position before during his 22 years in parliament.

Replying to questions from independent and opposition legislators, he said: “I give instructions to my aide and so I don’t punch into a computer myself, but I am confident our work is flawless.”

When asked about the power grid and malware, Sakurada said USB was “basically never used” in the utility systems, appearing to not know what it might be.

Politicians laughed incredulously at his replies, which were highlighted in the Japanese media.

Questioning and answers in Parliament are also carried live on national TV. Ministers in Japan almost always get parliamentary questions in advance. Often their answers are based on briefings from ministry bureaucrats.

During the exchange, bureaucrats were seen rushing over to give him sheets of paper with information.

Ministers are tapped by prime minister Shinzo Abe and Sakurada was named to his position in the most recent Cabinet reshuffle, enacted last month.

Although the minister is not expected to have much hands-on responsibility in the handling of either cyber-security matters or the Olympics, his high-profile bungling is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister.

Sakurada was first elected to parliament in 1996, representing Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. His favourite issues are pushing for Japan’s economic prosperity and supporting its culture. “There is no genius that surpasses effort,” is his favourite motto.

In May, a similar cyber-security role in the US government was abolished after the Trump-led White House chose not to appoint anyone following the resignation of the most recent appointee.

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