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Japan's New Head of Cybersecurity Has Never Used a Computer

Japan’s new head of cybersecurity, Yoshitaka Sakurada, arrives at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on October 2, 2018
Japan’s new head of cybersecurity, Yoshitaka Sakurada, arrives at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on October 2, 2018
Photo: AP

Yoshitaka Sakurada, Japan’s new cybersecurity minister, has never used a computer. Not even once. But he insists that his lack of real-world experience doesn’t have a negative impact on his job. Seriously.


“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 told Japanese lawmakers today in response to a question about his qualifications, according to the English-language news site Kyodo News.

The 68-year-old Sakurada, whose role includes overseeing computer security for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, became head of cybersecurity in Japan just last month after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected.


When a lawmaker expressed astonishment that someone who’s never used a computer would be in that job, Sakurada reportedly said, “It’s a matter that should be dealt with by the government as a whole. I am confident that I am not at fault.”

Or, in other words, don’t blame me, I just work here.

But it seems like Sakurada’s ignorance about tech could be a real problem. Another lawmaker asked him about whether Japan’s nuclear power stations use USB drives. Sakurada had no idea, and said that the “specialists” would be able to answer that.

A reporter for the ABC in Australia asked on Twitter if Sakurada even knows how to use a fax machine, which might seem like a sarcastic burn to those of us in the United States. But faxes are still popular in the island nation of 127 million. As of 2011, roughly 45 percent of private homes in Japan had a fax machine.


So far nobody has directly called for Sakurada to resign his post, but it’s hard to see how he could remain in such an important position with absolutely no relevant experience. But weirder things have happened, especially in the United States. Did you hear that over there they even gave a job to the president’s daughter and son-in-law? The guy who did that doesn’t really know how to use a computer either.

[Kyodo News and BBC]


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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I deal with people like this all the time in the DoD.

After I brief them on a cyber security threat, they usually looked puzzled and ask me “... well.. what would YOU do?” They go with my suggestions 99% of the time and ask me to implement them. They usually come out looking like rock stars and promote into higher positions with even more responsibilities.