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Hacker group attacks Nissan Motor Co. website over whale hunt

The group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for knocking out the websites of companies and government agencies in Japan. (Photo: Thinkstock)
The group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for knocking out the websites of companies and government agencies in Japan. (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Bloomberg) -- A hacker group is stepping up attacks on the websites of Japanese institutions in protest against the country’s whale hunting.

The global website of Nissan Motor Co. went down Wednesday morning, making it the latest among scores of organizations that have come under fire from activists. Hackers who say they are affiliated with the group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for knocking out the websites of companies and government agencies in Japan.

Hacking collective Anonymous has targeted subjects from politicians and major corporations to Islamic State. Its purported campaign against Japan has so far included the personal website of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a whale museum and a resort that features dolphins, the hactivist organization claims.

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Nissan spokesman Dion Corbett confirmed the automaker’s website was inaccessible to the public and stressed the company has no stance nor any connection with whale hunting.

"Because of a potential distributed denial of service attack, we are temporarily suspending service on our websites to prevent further risks," he said in an e-mailed statement. "Nissan continuously monitors and takes aggressive steps to ensure the protection of our information systems and all of our data.”

Japanese hunting of whales and dolphins has continued despite protests from celebrities, activists and environmental organizations. Decades of over-hunting has left species including blue, fin and humpback whales endangered and triggered an international campaign to save the animals that culminated with a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. Since the ban however, Japan has killed thousands of whales by taking advantage of that treaty’s exception on whaling for scientific research.

An international outcry also followed in the wake of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “‘The Cove,” which depicted an annual slaughter of dolphins that some Japanese regard as a cultural tradition.

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