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Science Ministry expresses regret over Japan’s pressure on Naver

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : May 10, 2024 - 17:22

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Kang Do-hyun, the second vice minister of science and ICT, speaks during a press briefing at the Government Complex Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap) Kang Do-hyun, the second vice minister of science and ICT, speaks during a press briefing at the Government Complex Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

The Science Ministry on Friday expressed regret over the Japanese government’s pressure on Naver to shed its ownership stakes in the popular messaging app Line, hinting at "strong and stern" measures if necessary.

“The Seoul government's firm position is that we’ll ensure Korean companies, including Naver, are not subject to any unreasonable measures related to overseas business and overseas investment,” Second Vice Science Minister Kang Do-hyun told reporters during a briefing in Seoul.

If Naver decides to maintain its stake and business in the Tokyo-based LY Corp., the operator of the messaging app Line, the Science Ministry said it would support appropriate measures to strengthen information security.

The ministry's announcement came a day after Japan’s SoftBank CEO Junichi Miyakawa confirmed the company has been in talks with Naver over its capital relationship in LY Corp., which is majority-owned by A Holdings, a 50-50 joint venture between the two firms.

“With a firm position that there should be no discriminatory measures against Korean companies, we met with the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications through the Korean Embassy in Japan to confirm the facts regarding the administrative guidance last month, and have since confirmed the exact position of the Japanese government through diplomatic channels,” Kang said.

Considering the composition of the board of directors of LY Corp., the company’s management rights have already been under SoftBank’s control since 2019, the second vice minister noted.

Before the Science Ministry’s briefing, Naver declared its first official stance on the possible stake sale, saying it is “open to all possibilities” and that discussions are underway with SoftBank.