Anti-nuclear activists expressed outrage Monday over cyberattacks involving a torrent of harassing emails that have nearly crippled their online activities.

Yasue Ashihara, a member of Sayonara Shimane Genpatsu Network (Goodbye-Nuke Network in Shimane), said the group received about 10,000 emails in mid-September, some of which contained hateful remarks such as: “without the massacre of anti-nuclear activists, the world will see no peace.” But most messages turned out to be fake confirmations of new memberships, she said.

Noting the cyberattacks mainly targeted anti-nuclear civic groups, Ashihara said she believes whoever masterminded the harassment clearly supports atomic power. “Whoever may have perpetrated this, I consider the acts very cowardly. If someone has something to say, just say it,” Ashihara said.

Hideki Hayashi, who heads the Hokuriku chapter of Fukushima Genpatsu Kokusodan (Fukushima Nuclear Accusers), meanwhile, said the group was deluged with approximately 1.5 million blank emails between Sept. 19 and 30. The inundation left him temporarily unable to keep track of other important messages addressed to his organization, and nearly incapacitated his personal computer.

“Since we’ve been involved in anti-nuclear activism for a while, we’re sort of used to this kind of harassment,” Hayashi said, adding his fellow nuclear foes have routinely endured other torments, including being sent expensive merchandise they were later asked to pay for.

“But what we worry about is this harassment against us may discourage members of the general public from joining our movement,” Hayashi said.

The group’s Fukushima chapter suffered similar harassment, rendering it almost dysfunctional, said member Miwa Chiwaki. Her group was deluged with about 140,000 messages from mid-September through mid-October, most in the guise of confirmation emails thanking it for joining other fellow anti-nuclear groups. Deleting and blocking the harassing emails severely disrupted her organization’s normal routine, she added.

Lawyer Ryo Nakagawa, who along with colleague Yuichi Kaido co-represents anti-nuclear civic groups nationwide, said his team is considering filing a criminal complaint against the party perpetrating the harassment.

Authorities could regard such harassment as interference in a business activity, Nakagawa said.

According to Kyodo News, at least 33 civic groups nationwide, most of them anti-nuclear, have been hit by cyberattacks swamping them with a combined 2.53 million harassing emails since mid-September. The harassing party is using the software Tor to exploit computer systems that automatically send confirmation emails to people registering for online newsletters or making inquiries, after apparently obtaining the email addresses of the civic groups.

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