Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong reportedly plans to meet a group of top executives from Japanese electronic parts vendors in Seoul on Oct. 4.
The group, which was formed in 1993 by Lee’s ailing father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, is called “Lee Kun-hee and his Japanese Friends,” or LJF for short. It consists of nine top executives from Japanese companies including Kyocera, Murata Manufacturing and TDK. Since the chairman was hospitalized after a heart attack in May 2014, Vice Chairman Lee has taken part in the annual meetings on his father’s behalf.
The Japanese executives and the junior Lee met in Japan from 2015 to 2017 and in Seoul last year.
The vice chairman has paid a great deal of attention to the meetings in an effort to maintain amicable relations with Japanese parts manufacturers, especially since early this year when the South Korean and Japanese governments started to bicker over trade issues. Right after the Japanese government implemented toughened regulations in July, restricting exports to Korea of chemical products necessary to make semiconductors and displays, Lee flew to Japan to meet key partners there.
“The visit of the Japanese entrepreneurs to Seoul amid escalating trade tension between Korea and Japan is quite meaningful,” an industry source was quoted as saying by the Dong-a Ilbo, a local newspaper. On Sept. 19, Lee took part in the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Tokyo and rubbed shoulders with figures in the Japanese political, cultural and business sectors.
Some industry officials said the recent supply contracts that Samsung Electronics signed with Japanese companies are thanks in part to Lee’s efforts to maintain good business relations with the Japanese business community. Samsung recently said it had inked a supply contract for 5G base stations with KDDI, the second-largest telecommunications firm in Japan. The tech giant refused to reveal details, but it is estimated that Samsung will provide base stations worth $20 billion to the Japanese firm between now and 2023.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com)