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The education ministry says it temporarily shut down a computer system Thursday due to fear that it may have been hit by the fast-spreading computer virus Code Red 2, which has caused damage mainly in the United States.

It is the first time that a Japanese government computer system is believed to have been infected by the virus. , which was first identified earlier this month.

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the system believed to be affected by Code Red 2 enables users to confirm the availability of government documents when they file for their release under the information disclosure law.

Ministry officials found Thursday morning that the system was partially rewritten to enable outsiders to control it illegally. Officials shut down the system around noon.

Code Red 2, a new strain of the Code Red worm, could affect workstations running Microsoft Internet Information Server software on Windows NT or Windows 2000 operating systems.

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