The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Japan cybersecurity minister who doesn’t use computers now admits he doesn’t get cybersecurity either

Yoshitaka Sakurada, who was appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in October, also serves as minister for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara/AP)

TOKYO — Japan’s cybersecurity minister, who gained global notoriety last week when he said he doesn’t use a computer, has now admitted he’s not that familiar with the whole cybersecurity field either.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, who also serves as minister for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, faced a parliamentary committee Thursday on the country’s new cybersecurity law.

“I myself am not that familiar with” cybersecurity matters, he told the committee, according to the Japan Times.

“My biggest job is to read out written replies without making any mistakes,” he said, referring to responses to questions written for him by his ministry’s bureaucrats.

The Japan Times reported that Sakurada even struggled with that role.

During the meeting, it reported, there were times when Sakurada failed to read such documents correctly, while he also misunderstood questions from lawmakers and made some inappropriate answers.

An opposition lawmaker said he could harm Japan’s economy, to which he replied, “I’m here because a Cabinet minister is needed.”

Japan is revising its cybersecurity law ahead of the Olympics, with an amendment approved on Thursday meant to facilitate information sharing between public and private sectors to ward off possible cyberattacks.

Sakurada, who was appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in October, has a long-standing reputation for gaffes. In 2016, he described the “comfort women” forced into providing sexual services to the occupying Japanese troops in the past century as “professional prostitutes,” sparking an angry response from South Korea.

Last week, he told another parliamentary committee he didn’t use a computer.

“I’ve been doing business independently since I was 25 years old, so I have been giving instructions to employees and secretaries,” he said, according to Kyodo News. “I never touch my computer myself.”

This week, he expanded on that topic.

“I use a smartphone many times a day because it’s very useful,” he said. “I’ve never felt any inconvenience from not being able to type by myself.”

He is not alone. President Trump is reported as not using a computer, though he frequently tweets from his phone.