National / Politics

Japan cybersecurity minister who doesn't use computers says he's also not familiar with cybersecurity


Yoshitaka Sakurada, the minister for cybersecurity who recently confessed that he does not use computers, has now told a Diet committee that he is not very familiar with cybersecurity issues.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Lower House Cabinet Committee, Sakurada — who also serves as minister for the 2020 Tokyo Games — faced his first question-and-answer session on a bill to revise the Basic Act on Cybersecurity.

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

“My biggest job (as Cabinet minister) is to read out written replies (prepared by bureaucrats) without making any mistakes,” he said.

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

He faced criticism from an opposition lawmaker, saying that he could cause losses to Japan’s economy.

In reply, Sakurada said, “I’m here because a Cabinet minister is needed.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Sakurada expanded on his use of technological devices.

“I use a smartphone many times a day because it’s very useful,” said Sakurada, who took up his current post in a Cabinet reshuffle in early October. “I’ve never felt any inconvenience from not being able to type by myself.”

At a meeting of the same committee on Nov. 14, Sakurada, 68, said, “I don’t use a personal computer” — drawing shock from the opposition camp and capturing worldwide media attention.

“It’s incredible that a person who has never used a computer is in charge of cybersecurity policies,” an opposition lawmaker said at the time.

The amendment to the cybersecurity law was approved by a majority vote with support mainly from the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling bloc.

The bill calls for, among other things, establishing a council to facilitate information-sharing between the public and private sectors, in a bid to strengthen measures against possible cyberattacks ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics.