A Japanese minister in charge of cyber security has provoked astonishment by admitting he has never used a computer in his professional life, and appearing confused by the concept of a USB drive.
Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, is the deputy chief of the government’s cyber security strategy office and also the minister in charge of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that Tokyo will host in 2020.
In parliament on Wednesday however, he admitted he doesn’t use computers.
“Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself,” he said in a response to an opposition question in a lower house session, local media reported.
He also appeared confused by the question when asked about whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities.
His comments were met with incredulity by opposition lawmakers.
“It’s unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cyber security 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 cyber security.
“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.