Hacking of Japan's pension system recalls 2007 scandal

Hacking of Japan's pension system recalls 2007 scandal
Japan Pension Service president Toichiro Mizushima bows in apology during a news conference in Tokyo.

TOKYO - Japan's pension system has been hacked and more than a million cases of personal data leaked, the authorities said yesterday, in an embarrassment that revived memories of a scandal that helped topple Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his first term in office.

Japan Pension Service staff computers were improperly accessed by an external e-mail virus, leading to the leak of some 1.25 million cases of personal data, the system's president, Toichiro Mizushima, told a news conference.

He apologised for the leak, which he said involved combinations of names, identification numbers, birth dates and addresses.

The pension service was setting up a team to investigate the cause and prevent a recurrence, Mr Mizushima said.

"These are the people's vital pensions. I have instructed Health and Welfare Minister (Yasuhisa) Shiozaki to consider the pension recipients and do everything possible," Mr Abe told reporters in brief remarks aired on NHK public television.

The data leak was the evening's top news story.

Separately, Mr Shiozaki apologised for failing to prevent the hacking and told a news conference that he had instructed the Japan Pension Service to give top priority to protecting the public's pensions.

Public outrage over botched record-keeping that left millions of pension premium payments unaccounted for was a major factor in the defeat suffered by Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in a 2007 election for Parliament's upper house.

He resigned in September of that year.

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