Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong secured emergency stockpiles of three key high-tech materials subject to Tokyo's export restrictions against South Korea during his recent trip to Japan, sources said Sunday.
Sharing the results of his trip, Lee told a special meeting held Saturday with top executives that he secured enough fluorinated polyimides, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride to avoid disruptions in production, according to sources.
On July 4, Japan imposed restrictions on exports to South Korea of the three key materials used in semiconductors and displays in an apparent retaliatory measure in connection with a diplomatic row over Japan's wartime forced labor.
"With Lee's quick response, Samsung apparently got a breather on the situation of three key materials," a source familiar with the matter said. "It appears to have taken care of the most urgent matter."
It's unknown how much and how Samsung will get the three high-tech materials, but sources said it will be enough to prevent operational problems at its production facilities with existing inventories for a while.
Industry insiders speculate that the materials Samsung secured will not be direct imports from Japanese companies since they will be regulated under the Tokyo government.
Lee returned home Friday following his six-day visit to Japan, where he reportedly met Japanese officials to find solutions to Tokyo's export regulations.
Meanwhile, at his special meeting with top executives from the company's device solutions (DS) division and display making units Saturday, Lee also told the executives to prepare for contingency plans, adding that Samsung needs to be ready for scenarios of Japan expanding its export curbs to other area, including smartphones and televisions.
"Although Samsung has secured quite an amount of materials this time, it isn't an ultimate solution to the problem," an industry source said. "Since Japan's trade restriction can expand in the future, Lee reportedly ordered the affiliates to prepare for contingency plans." (Yonhap)