International “hactavist” collective Anonymous caught Japan’s attention on June 27 after they launched a series of DDoS attacks against several Japanese government institutions in response to a new copyright law punishing the downloading of pirated content with fines of up to $2,000,000 (US $25,180) and/or a maximum of two years in prison.
Acting under the banner “Operation Japan”, Anonymous issued a formal press release via Twitter two days before the attack warning: “you can now expect us the same way we have come to expect you in violating our basic rights to privacy and to an open internet.”
They continue to post updates of their activities to Twitter and while most of their tweets are made in English, Anonymous also seems to have someone who speaks Japanese working at the keyboard. However, despite Anonymous’ best attempts to translate their lofty rhetoric, most Japanese people can’t help but feel their faulty Japanese makes them just the most adorable little hacker group ever.
While Anonymous had posted two tweets in Japanese before the DDoS attack, it wasn’t until a series of three tweets after the attacks that they began to win the hearts of the Japanese people (arguably for the wrong reasons).
It would take a lesson in Japanese to explain what exactly it is about the tweets that tickled people so much, so instead we’ve decided to run them through Google Translate hoping it will give you an idea of what they might sound like to a native Japanese reader:
“Yesterday was busy. But was a little mistake. (Laughs) and I’m sorry Yappari Japanese bombing is difficult. But everyone is friendly. Said the description of the mistake. Thank you. I will do my best.”
“However, the LDP and the Democratic Party was not a mistake. They are made from a vote in favor of the illegal downloads, has been punished.”
“Do not attack JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) why?” But everyone says. Is a good idea. Party is not a good target maybe. Would you change?”
Okay, so maybe their Japanese isn’t that bad. A number of people even gave them props for the semi-correct usage of the internet slang word gobaku (誤爆), which means “bombing the wrong target” but can also refer to posting a comment to the wrong thread on internet message boards like 2ch.
While awkwardly translated above as “Japanese bombing is difficult”, the word actually refers to how Anonymous accidentally hacked the homepage of the Kasumigaura River Office in Ibaraki Prefecture, mistaking “Kasumigaura” for “Kasumigaseki”, the district of Tokyo where many central government offices are located.
A more accurate translation of the tweet would be: “We made a slight mistake. Sorry to hit the wrong target (lol). Japanese is difficult.”
Luckily, the Japanese are known for having an appreciation for foreigners learning their language and many netizens think the tweets are kawaii (cute) and appreciate the group’s honesty in admitting their mistake.
Anonymous seems to be off to a good start in Japan with their endearing Japanese and straightforward attitude. Japanese is indeed a difficult language and even native speakers mix up “Kasumigaura” and “Kasumigaseki”.
But still, imagine if a group of Japanese hackers had just made the news after taking down the DOJ site in the name of online privacy. Curious or concerned, you check their Twitter looking for more information on the group’s activities only to see the tweet: “Lets fighting American governments to save the free pirate! For great justice!” You might chuckle, you might put them up on Engrish.com, but in whatever case you’d probably be less likely to take them seriously…