• Kyodo

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A group of Chinese hackers has launched organized cyber-attacks on dozens of official Web sites in Japan and Taiwan in response to a Japanese attack on a Chinese site last month, the Hong Kong edition of China’s official newspaper reported Friday.

The newspaper Wen Wei Po said groups organized 1,900 hackers to launch a massive attack on more than 200 official Web sites in Japan and Taiwan on Monday. The attack was scheduled to continue for a week, it said.

The daily said the hackers were divided into five groups, each responsible for different tasks. The groups are believed to have been organized by the China Federation of Defending the Diaoyu Islands.

The paper said the sabotage was in retaliation for a Japan-based attack on the Web site of the China Federation of Defending Diaoyu Islands on July 25 in which a hacker wrote “the Uotsuri Island belongs to Japan” on the site, the report said. Uotsuri is the largest of the islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands.

But the federation, which seeks to assert China’s claim to sovereignty over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, denied that it had launched the attack.

Zhou Wenpo, who is in charge of the federation’s network, told Kyodo News from Beijing: “I am not aware of the hacking. It’s very strange. We wouldn’t use illegal means to take revenge on illegal activities.”

Tokyo officials said earlier in the week that access to the Web sites of eight government ministries and agencies slowed or was halted as the sites were bombarded with massive amount of data.

The Web site of Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine was also hit. The Shinto shrine posted a note on its site saying an unusually large number of access requests from abroad were intermittently causing difficulties for browsers.

Dozens of Japanese official Web sites, including the Foreign Ministry, National Police Agency, Japan Coast Guard and Defense Agency, and some official Taiwan Web sites were shut down, the report says.

Most Japanese Web sites took between a few seconds and two days to be revived. Many of the sites in Taiwan are said to be still down.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Thursday there had been a cyber attack on the government computer network system early this week that had not caused any major damage.

He said it would be difficult to track down the hackers.

An official of Yasukuni Shrine, often regarded by other parts of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s militarist past, said Friday that its Web site has been drawing a plethora of hits since July 30, seeing at one time more than 30,000 simultaneous hits.

The shrine has been contacted by the Metropolitan Police Department, asking whether there had been any unauthorized alterations to the site’s contents. No damage to data on the Web site has been observed, it said.

A pop-up message in Japanese says, “Currently, the Web site of this shrine has been receiving an unusual number of hits from abroad and is liable to cause intermittent disruption in viewing.”

“An unusual number of access attempts are probably originating overseas, but we do not know what exactly is happening,” said Shingo Oyama, head of the public relations office.

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