“I’ve been doing business independently since I was 25 years old, so I have been giving instructions to employees and secretaries,” the 68-year-old Sakurada told the committee, according to Kyodo News. “I never touch my computer myself.”
When asked by independent lawmaker Masato Imai how a man who does not use computers could help implement online security measures, Sakurada said that the cybersecurity initiative is a government-wide project and that he had confidence in it.
Japan’s revision of its cybersecurity law comes as the country is gearing up for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The government announced the cybersecurity initiative in the summer.
“The likelihood of cyberattacks resulting in major economic losses is growing,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a meeting in Abe’s office in July.
Sakurada has been in charge of Olympic preparations since early October, but he has faced extraordinary grilling over his position in recent weeks and has fumbled while responding to simple questions, including about how much the event would cost and whether North Korean officials would be allowed to attend.
The politician has a long-standing reputation for making ill-advised comments — most notably in 2016, when he described the “comfort women” forced into providing sexual services to the troops of Imperial Japan in occupied territories as “professional prostitutes.”
The comment sparked an angry response from Seoul, and Sakurada later apologized.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that the Japanese government had been considering having a different cabinet minister handle the revision of the cybersecurity laws, amid concerns about Sakurada’s handling of the matter during questioning in parliament.
Sakurada’s lack of tech savvy is not necessarily unusual in Japan’s aging society, where those older than 65 are estimated to make up 28 percent of the population. A government survey from 2015 found that over two-thirds of people older than 60 had little or no access to the Internet.
Some other high-profile figures around the world also lack familiarity with technology: President Trump is reported as not using a computer, though he frequently tweets from his phone.