Tokyo, Japan : 68-year-old Yoshitaka Sakurada, Japan minister in charge of cybersecurity as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, did not know what a USB drive is and admitted that he has never actually used a computer.
Since I was 25, I have been in a position of authority where secretaries and employees handle such tasks for me,” Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, told a Lower House cabinet committee meeting, per The Japan Times.
“I give instructions to my aide and so I don’t punch into a computer myself, but I am confident our work is flawless.” he added.
Multiple media outlets noted that Sakurada, whose ministerial portfolio includes the organization of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, also appeared clueless about how USB sticks work when answering questions about the security of the country’s power grid.
His comments were met with incredulity by opposition lawmakers.
“It’s unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cybersecurity policies,” said opposition lawmaker Masato Imai.
And his comments provoked a firestorm online.
“Doesn’t he feel ashamed?” wrote one Twitter user.
“Today any company president uses a PC. He doesn’t even know what a USB is. Holy cow.”
Another joked that perhaps Sakurada was simply engaged in his own kind of cybersecurity.
“If a hacker targets this Minister Sakurada, they wouldn’t be able to steal any information. Indeed it might be the strongest kind of security!”
Sakurada has been in office just over a month, after being appointed in a cabinet reshuffle following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reelection as head of his political party.
His Luddite tendencies aside, Sakurada has also struggled to master his Olympic brief, less than two years before the Games open in Tokyo.
Earlier this month he claimed to know nothing about plans for North Korea’s sports minister to attend a meeting in Tokyo at the end of the month, in violation of a ban on the regime’s officials entering Japan.
After Sakurada told a news conference that he was “unaware” of the report, an aide intervened and he quickly corrected himself, claiming that officials had indeed briefed him.
He also suggested that he did not know that Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, had asked the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in March to allow his country’s athletes to take part in the 2020 Games.
“This is not something I should be meddling in in my capacity,” he said, according to the Asahi newspaper. “It’s beyond my jurisdiction.”
Sakurada blamed one particularly unimpressive performance in parliament on the opposition MP Renho Murata, complaining that she had not given him her questions in advance.
“Since there was no prior notice about the questions, I had no idea what would be asked at the session,” the Asahi quoted him as saying.
When Renho asked him how much funding the central government would contribute to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, he responded: “1,500 yen”, which works out at just over $13, some way below the actual sum of 150 billion yen.