Imagine a country’s cybersecurity being handled by a minister who has no knowledge of computers. No, it’s not fiction. The current Cybersecurity Minister of Japan, Yoshitaka Sakurada, aged 68, has revealed that he has never even used a computer in his life.
An unsuitable minister
“Since I was 25 years old and independent, I have instructed my staff and secretaries. I have never used a computer in my life,” Sakurada said in a statement (Euronews). He was responding to questions put forward at the Japanese parliament. When asked by a lawmaker whether nuclear power plants allowed the usage of USB drives (a known security risk), the minister stated that he didn’t know the details and suggested calling in an expert to clear such doubts.
The opposition immediately pounced at Sakurada’s ignorance of even the most basic knowledge of his ministry. “I can’t believe that a person who never used a computer is in charge of cybersecurity measures,” Masato Imai, member of the opposition, said in a statement (The New York Times). Sakurada was appointed to the cybersecurity ministry just last month when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the Cabinet reshuffle.
Interestingly, Sakurada is also in charge of overseeing the Olympic and Paralympic games that are scheduled to be held in Tokyo in 2020. And even in these topics, he seems to be fumbling around, having no knowledge of given tasks. “Doubts are deepening about Yoshitaka Sakurada’s fitness as new minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after his responses showed a stunning lack of understanding of basic issues concerning the event. Sakurada has blamed the question givers for his often baffling statements about the Games,” according to The Asahi Shimbun.
Last month, Sakurada told reporters that he was unaware as to whether the sports minister of North Korea might attend a meeting in Tokyo. His statement was immediately contradicted by his aide who said that the minister had been briefed on the matter.
Sakurada is also a pretty controversial character in Japan for the politically insensitive statements he makes. Just two years before, he was heavily criticized for saying that the “comfort women” were merely “prostitutes by occupation.” Comfort women refers to the Korean females who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during the Second World War. He eventually apologized for making such statements.
Japan’s new cybersecurity laws
Keeping in mind that the Olympic Games have been scheduled for 2020, the government has introduced a new cybersecurity strategy. A new body will be incorporated that will coordinate functions of the Olympic organizing committee, municipalities, government agencies, and business operators who respond to cyberattacks.
“It also decided to introduce a 5-stage index to classify the severity of cyberattacks to help people understand the magnitude of threats and take necessary action. The five stages are based on how long it will take to recover, the size of the area affected, as well as whether people were injured or forced to evacuate,” according to The Japan Times.
Once the cybersecurity strategy gains approval from the Cabinet, it will be used as a guideline for the next three years. Necessary training and drills are also suggested under the strategy, based on the assumption that cyberattacks can lead to disruptions in financial services and result in large-scale power outages.