Japan nuclear data leak raises security concerns

Japanese officials scrambled on Thursday to contain the public relations fallout from reports that confidential information about Japan's nuclear plants had leaked onto the Internet through a virus on a personal computer.

Japan's top government spokesman pledged to take steps to protect information after data on several nuclear plants appeared online, including photographs of their interiors, details of regular inspections and repair work and names of workers.

"Nuclear plants are important facilities in terms of anti-terrorist measures, security and what not, and therefore we would like to take full steps to ensure information management," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said the information was leaked through a personal computer used by an employee of a Mitsubishi subsidiary that was in charge of inspecting the plants.

Mitsubishi Electric said the leak occurred at one of its subsidiaries and included information from seven Japanese electric power companies and five independent firms.

"We deeply apologise for causing trouble to many people including electric power companies," Mitsubishi Electric said in a statement. "We will do our utmost to prevent the recurrence of such an incident."

A trade ministry official in charge of the investigation said the information that was published was not directly linked to the "core part" of the nuclear plants.

"We believe the information allegedly leaked does not include data directly related to nuclear materials, which are kept under strict control," he said.

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Japanese police and coast guard forces have tightened security around the country's 52 nuclear reactors.

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