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International relations

Tokyo police suspect Chinese military behind cyberattacks

Case filed against Chinese Communist Party member engineer in Japan

Police allege the suspect rented a number of computer servers and may have hacked into Japan's JAXA space agency. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Tokyo Metropolitan Police filed a case on Tuesday against an engineer, who is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, for allegedly taking part in cyberattacks that targeted Japan's space agency JAXA and about 200 other Japanese companies and research institutions.

Naming the Chinese government directly in Japanese cybercrime cases is rare.

The suspect is a male in his 30s, sources close to the matter revealed.

Police allege that the suspect rented computer servers in 2016 that were used for cyberattacks against JAXA. He used a fake name to rent the servers five times.

The suspect is a system engineer at a Chinese state-owned telecom company and a member of the Chinese Communist Party, sources close to the investigation said. He is believed to have been involved in cyberattacks against some 200 entities between 2016 and 2018.

He is also suspected of having shared the identity of the servers with a hacker group called Tick, which has ties to the Chinese military.

Investigators say another Chinese man in Japan rented computer servers at the behest of a different hacker group, Unit 61419, which belongs to the Chinese military.

Police believe the attacks were aimed at obtaining classified information for the Chinese government, and have urged the comprised companies and institutes to be wary of further cyberspying and to audit their networks for damage.

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