Japanese police are searching for a Chinese national who they suspect tried to fraudulently buy Japanese security software in November 2016, allegedly at the instruction of his wife, who is linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.
The authorities suspect Wang tried to buy Japanese security software in 2016 by using a fake Japanese company, since the software could only be sold to Japanese companies. The seller who dealt with Wang reportedly canceled the transaction after learning that the company didn’t exist.
Wang intended to purchase the security software then look for software vulnerabilities to assist the Chinese military in launching cyberattacks against 200 Japanese companies, including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), investigators said.
Wang also is suspected of signing a server license contract under a false identity. Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department said it has obtained an arrest warrant and aims to place Wang on Interpol’s wanted list for help in locating him internationally.
Wang reportedly told authorities during voluntary questioning that his wife, who is a member of the PLA, instructed him to “contribute to your country” by purchasing the software and fraudulently signing a contract for a server license.
Between 2016 and 2017, officials reported that about 200 local companies and research institutions, including the JAXA, were hit by cyberattacks suspected to have been launched by “Tick,”—a Chinese hacking group—under the direction of a Chinese military unit.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the police identified a Chinese systems engineer based in Japan who allegedly gained access to a rental server under a false identity to launch cyberattacks against the JAXA, but the suspect had left the country.
Kato said that “China’s People’s Liberation Army is highly likely” to be involved in the cyberattacks, though he noted that the police didn’t detect a data leak or damage. He added that police are investigating the attackers’ intents and methods, while also pursuing scores of other cyberattacks that they suspect are linked to China’s military.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin argued that cyberattacks are a common challenge faced by all countries and warned Japan against wrongly accusing China.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.