Government sources revealed that a number of highly confidential files have been stolen through a cyber attack on the computers of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, including documents related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact negotiations. Investigations revealed that the attack came from overseas, possibly from South Korea, according to sources.
The stolen documents are suspected to be internal ministry materials created just before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 2011 and before a Japan-U.S. meeting concerning the TPP on April 2012. One document contained a draft statement to be issued by then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama regarding the TPP. More than 20 of the files believed to be stolen are highly confidential documents related to Japan’s roadmap for participating in the TPP talks as well as analysis of the consequences of delaying a decision to join it.
Last year, the National Information Security Center (NISC), part of the Cabinet Secretariat that dealing with state information security, warned the ministry about a suspicious transmission of data. The documents in question were supposedly moved from the personal computer of a ministry official into an official government computer that had already been compromised. Based on the investigation, the computer communicated with a server having a South Korean Internet Protocol (IP) address. It is believed that the attacker manipulated the Korean server, whose control screen was displayed in the Hangul alphabet. A ministry official declined to give a comment about the incident citing security reasons.