Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Samsung heir flies to Tokyo, seeks support from suppliers

Samsung heir flies to Tokyo, seeks support from suppliers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Samsung Electronics heir Lee Jae-yong has visited Tokyo to relay Seoul’s stance on Japanese controls on exports of key materials to Korean tech companies and seek alternatives. YONHAP NEWS AGENCY

Samsung heir flies to Tokyo, seeks support from suppliers

As South Korea continued to weigh its move against Japanese controls on exports of key materials to domestic tech companies, Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong flew to Tokyo late on Sunday to meet with his counterparts.

Finding himself a de-facto channel for Korean industry, and possibly even the government, to relay Seoul’s stance and seek alternatives, Lee is likely to contact Sumimoto Chemical chairman Hiromasa Yonekura, Mitsubishi Trading CEO Hironobu Abe and Ushio Group chairman Jiro Ushio, who have close ties with Samsung in the semiconductor business, according to some news reports.

The Mitsubishi CEO is an older brother of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while the Ushio chairman is the father-in-law of Abe’s brother.

Samsung declined to confirm Lee’s schedule in Japan.

“It is speculated that the vice-chairman will ask for support from major suppliers in order to prevent possible delays in material procurement,” said an industry official.

However, the likelihood of Lee coming back with a breakthrough that could resolve the current dispute seems low, according to industry sources.

“There is not much Lee can do in this case, and it doesn’t seem right that the Samsung heir interferes in a diplomatic issue involving the two governments,” an official said.

On Monday, the Japanese government announced that it would scrutinise exports of fluorine polyimide, photoresists and etching gas, which are essential for manufacturing semiconductors and display panels, to Korean companies.

Fluorine polyimide is an essential material in making foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Some news reports said Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK hynix are likely to run out of their stores of the key materials in the next few weeks, raising concerns about the trade conflict sparked by a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Korea has reiterated that it will take steps to deal firmly with the Japanese export restrictions.

Speaking publicly on the issue for the first time, President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting with aides on Monday that Japan should withdraw its export control, calling it an attempt to limit trade for political purposes.

Saying his administration would first make “calm” efforts for a diplomatic resolution, Moon warned that if Korean companies face actual damages the government will be left with no other choice but to take “necessary” measures in response.

“[I] call on the Japanese side to retract the measure and seek sincere consultations between the two countries,” he said.

‘Against WTO rules’

Also on Monday, Korea’s top economic policymaker said Japan should withdraw the latest restrictions on exports of chip making materials to Korean companies, citing international rules of trade and impact on the global economy.

“Japan should lift the export restrictions,” said Hong Nam-ki, deputy prime minister for economy, during a ministerial meeting on economic affairs.

“The Japanese export restrictions run against the World Trade Organisation’s [WTO] rules of agreement, which could have a negative impact not only on Korean companies but also Japanese companies and further on the global economy.”

The Korean government pledged to closely work with the international community to deal with the issue, while focusing efforts on minimising the impact on Korean businesses.

At noon on Sunday, Hong and Kim Sang-jo, policy chief of staff at the presidential Blue House, reportedly met with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group senior vice-chairman Chung Euisun and LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo to discuss measures to reduce the unfavourable impact on industries.

It has not been confirmed whether Samsung heir Lee took part in the Sunday meeting with government officials.

However, he met some of them last week and his latest trip to Japan seems to reflect Korea’s stance on the latest trade dispute. THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK


  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports