- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

TOKYO — Japan has bolstered the defense of its computer systems in the face of a surge in cyber-attacks, thought to be linked to anti-Japanese sentiment in Asia, by increasing staff and creating an agency to coordinate its efforts.

Government officials are reluctant to publicly pin the attacks on Chinese and South Korean hackers because of the difficulty of identifying their source, but a surge in attacks coincided with violent anti-Japanese protests last month in China.

“I can’t comment on media reports that many of these attacks came from China and South Korea,” said Naoki Miyagi, another center official. “But it’s true that there were provocative messages on Chinese Web sites calling for cyber-attacks on Japanese establishments.”

There was no indication that any of the attacks were backed by the Chinese or Korean governments, and they appeared to be the work of individuals or groups acting on their own.

Cyber-attacks have recently hit Japan’s National Police Agency, its Self-Defense Forces and the Defense and Foreign ministries, as well as other sites, such as businesses and a Tokyo war shrine criticized in Asia for honoring convicted war criminals.

No government site has been crippled by the attacks, but Mr. Miyagi said the assaults can slow down computer connections.

There have been no successful attempts to change the information posted on those sites, he said.

Some of the attacks, however, have been intense. An official at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, said on the condition of anonymity that the shrine’s Web site had been hit with 15,000 bogus visits per second, preventing access by legitimate users.

The demonstrations in China were triggered by Tokyo’s approval of a history book that detractors say whitewashes atrocities by Japan during its conquest of East Asia in the 1930s and 1940s.

To handle the explosion in Internet attacks, Japan established a National Information Security Center on April 25 and the anti-cyber-attack staff was increased from 18 to 26.

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