Japan's pension system has been hacked and more than a million cases of personal data has leaked, authorities said on Monday, 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 email virus, leading to the leak of some 1.25 million cases of personal data, the system's president, Toichiro Mizushima, told at a hastily called 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, 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," Abe told reporters.
Separately, Shiozaki apologised for failing to prevent the hacking and told he had instructed the Japan pension service to set top priority on 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 a devastating defeat suffered by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in a 2007 election for parliament's upper house.