Wartime history and a global health crisis is pushing South Korea and Samsung to become self-reliant on the parts its high-tech sector needs to thrive.
The government has teamed up with its biggest tech company at a national nanofab center, where researchers hope to cut reliance on Japanese supplies and make more materials on home soil.
It's critical because microchips account for a fifth of what the country sells abroad.
Tensions between South Korea and Japan have threatened that.
It's rooted in decades of history, and disputes over forced labor from when Japan occupied South Korea before and during World War II.
And last year, Japan restricted exports of key material South Korea needs to make microchips.
It showed how dependent companies like Samsung were on Japan.
Lee Jo-won is president of the Nanofab facility.
"After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe imposed export curbs in July last year, the global value chain broke down and the large companies want to secure independent foundation, and that's why we are setting up a test bed."
South Korea's push for self-reliance has only grown this year with the outbreak of the global health crisis.
Now, Seoul is also pushing to find other sources for some 100 items it still mainly gets from Japan, and its pledged 4 billion dollars to do it.
A Samsung spokesman told Reuters the company has decided to invest in firms that need cooperation to develop next-generation chip technologies.
It recently invested a total of about nearly $100 million dollars ($113 billion won) in two local makers of chip components and testing equipment, its first such investment in three years.
And it's also provided expensive new machinery to the public Nanofab lab -- at a fraction of the market price.
South Korea has already found workarounds for the three materials targeted by Abe last year.
It now gets some of it locally, and the rest from Belgium, Taiwan and China.
Samsung and fellow South Korean tech giants SK Hynix and LG supply chips and displays to companies around the world, including Apple, Qualcomm and Huawei.