Samsung obtains key supplies from Japan

SEOUL • South Korea's Samsung Electronics has secured emergency supplies of three key materials that Japan had cut off as part of export restrictions, thereby averting a crisis for its production lines.

Samsung vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong shared the outcome of his Japan trip with the company's management at a directors' meeting he hosted on Saturday, Yonhap reported, citing anonymous sources.

While it is unknown how Mr Lee secured the inventory or how much there is, the procurement will help prevent a "grave manufacturing deadlock", Yonhap said.

Mr Lee visited Tokyo last week to try to find alternative sources for semiconductors, in response to Japan's trade restrictions on South Korea, the Korea Times reported.

The latest flare-up in already fraught ties follows a series of South Korean court decisions ordering the seizure of Japanese corporate assets as compensation for Koreans conscripted to work in factories and mines during the colonial era from 1910 to 1945.

The issue escalated from a diplomatic spat to a global trade dispute on July 4 after Japan moved to curb the export of materials - including hydrogen fluoride and etching gas used to make chips - that are vital to South Korea's technology sector.

Mr Lee also ordered Samsung's management to prepare a contingency plan in case the spat between Japan and South Korea led to further restrictions, Yonhap cited another source as saying.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party senior member Koichi Hagiuda said yesterday that there had been "inappropriate incidents" which triggered Japan's crackdown on the exports.

Mr Tetsuo Saito, a senior member of the ruling coalition's Komeito Party, said the incidents included cases affecting Japan's national security.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2019, with the headline 'Samsung obtains key supplies from Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe