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Samsung heir’s extended Japan trip raises concerns

Concerns about the impact of the latest export restrictions imposed on South Korean companies by Japan are growing more intense as Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s trip to Tokyo has gone on longer than many had expected, industry sources said Friday.

Lee hopped on a jet to Tokyo on Sunday to meet with major suppliers of the three key materials for which new orders placed after July 4 will be scrutinized by the Japanese government.

It was widely expected that the Samsung heir would come back Thursday, but he hasn’t returned home yet amid an intensifying war of nerves between the two governments.


Lee reportedly has contacted the largest financial institutions in Japan, which hold financial stakes in Japanese companies such as JSR, a producer of photoresists that are essential to Samsung’s chipmaking processes.

The de facto leader of the Korean tech giant is seeking a solution that would involve the Japanese companies bypassing their regular export routes -- for example, procuring the materials from another country like Belgium or Taiwan.

It is still unknown whether the meetings were successful.

However, some Japanese news outlets reported that both suppliers and shareholders were taking an extremely cautious stance on the export restriction issue.

“The Japanese companies would be cautious of their government’s steps,” said an industry official. “Exporting via a third-party country is possible, but who would do that in this kind of situation?”

It hasn’t yet been confirmed when Lee will come back, according to Samsung.

Some predict that he might spend a whole week in Japan, continuing to communicate with major figures in the Japanese business community.

By Song Su-hyun (
Korea Herald Youtube