The international hackers group Anonymous has launched a series of cyber-attacks against Japanese government websites in an operation apparently triggered by the group's displeasure with the recent introduction of stiffer punishments for illegal downloads.
The Finance Ministry suspended access to part of its website after it apparently was illegally accessed Tuesday, and the Supreme Court's website also suffered disruptions, according to government sources.
The Cabinet Secretariat's National Information Security Center warned ministries, agencies and other government entities to be on alert for further cyber-attacks.
According to a statement posted on the Internet, Anonymous declared it would carry out a "large attack" called "Operation Japan" on Japanese government organizations in response to the enactment of the revised Copyright Law on June 20 that made illegal downloads punishable by up to two years in prison.
The group said the revised law would send many innocent people to jail.
The Finance Ministry found a document saying, "We are Anonymous" and "We do not forgive" had been inserted onto its website that provides information on nationally owned land lots Tuesday.
A regional office of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry also came under a cyber-attack.
According to the ministry, an English message was found on a page displaying rainfall data on the website of the Kasumigaura River Office of the Kanto Regional Development Bureau in Itako, Ibaraki Prefecture, at about 9:10 p.m. Tuesday. The ministry suspended operation of the website.
The websites of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the major opposition Liberal Democratic Party were difficult to access, the sources said.
"Anonymous" is an Internet users group that insists on "freedom of the Internet" and conducts illegal protest activities such as hacking.
Japanese companies such as Sony Corp. had been targeted by Anonymous, but this is the first time government organizations have come under attack.