As the U.S. attempts to shut China out of the race to develop advanced semiconductors, leading South Korean chipmakers with large production bases in China have found themselves caught in the crossfire.

With the fate of their businesses in China — their biggest market — becoming hazier, South Korean makers such are Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are expected to beef up cooperation with Japan to maintain a competitive edge and get through the tough times ahead.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last month, Kyung Kye-hyun, the head of Samsung's device solutions division, shared the company's intention to build a research and development facility for semiconductors in Japan, with the firm reportedly planning to make a ¥30 billion ($215.9 million) investment.