Photo/IllutrationYoshitaka Sakurada, minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, answers questions while consulting an aide at a news conference in Tokyo on Nov. 6. (Takahiro Okubo)

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.

At a news conference on Nov. 6, Sakurada was asked about a media report that said Japan was set to allow North Korea’s sports minister to attend an international Olympic meeting in Tokyo on Nov. 28-29 despite the entry ban on North Koreans.

“I am not aware of (the report) at all, and I don’t know,” Sakurada, 68, said.

But at the urging of an aide, he quickly corrected his remark, saying, “I gained knowledge of that through officials.”

Sakurada also implied that he did not know that Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, asked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in March to let his country’s athletes participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“This is not something that I should be meddling in in my capacity,” the Tokyo Olympics minister said. “It is beyond my jurisdiction.”

Sakurada was also asked why he had stumbled over questions about what is essentially his job during the Nov. 5 Upper House Budget Committee session.

He blamed the opposition lawmaker who had asked the questions.

“Since there was no prior notice about the questions, I had no idea what would be asked at the session,” he said.

He insisted that he would have comfortably answered such easy questions if he had been notified about them in advance.

Renho, a member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan who questioned him on Nov. 5, rejected Sakurada’s explanation, calling it an “error in fact.”

She said she had told reporters in advance what she was going to ask Sakurada.

During the Nov. 5 session, Renho asked Sakurada about the three basic concepts of the organizing committee of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sakurada did not answer the question and went off on a different tangent.

He also blundered when Renho asked him the amount of funding the government will provide in connection with the Olympics and Paralympics.

He said, “1,500 yen ($13.30),” well short of the actual figure of 150 billion yen.

Sakurada has a history of being unable to answer questions coherently.

At one time, the prime minister’s office considered having a different Cabinet member handle a revision law governing cyber security, which will affect the Tokyo Olympics, to avoid having Sakurada answer questions in the Diet about the legislation.