Naver yet to decide stance on Japan’s pressure on LY: CEO

May 3, 2024

Tech giant Naver Corp. said Friday it has yet to determine its position regarding Tokyo’s apparent pressure on LY Corp., the operator of popular mobile messenger app Line in Japan, to review its relationship with the Korean company.

“Rather than determining whether to follow the guidance or not, we see the matter as a decision which needs to be made according to our mid-to-long-term business strategy, and we are still pondering the matter,” Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon said during a conference call held for the release of the company’s first-quarter earnings, calling the Japanese move “exceptional.”

“Naver has yet to determine its stance on the matter,” she said. “We are in close communication with the Seoul government, including the Ministry of Science and ICT.”

Choi’s remark is the company’s first official response to the issue involving Naver, LY and Japan’s SoftBank Group. LY is controlled by a 50-50 joint venture between Naver and SoftBank.

Earlier this year, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued the administrative guidance to LY, regarding the data leak, urging it to decrease its dependence on Naver by handing over its stake to SoftBank.

Seoul’s science ministry said it is closely monitoring the Japanese government’s actions and will provide help to Naver if needed, but noted that Tokyo’s administrative measures have little to do with the bilateral relations.

LY is reportedly set to speed up its plan to separate its system from Naver by December 2026 as part of its efforts to improve safety management under the guidance.

Naver Corp.'s headquarters in Seongnam, just southeast of Seoul (Yonhap)
Naver Corp.’s headquarters in Seongnam, just southeast of Seoul (Yonhap)