As U.S. and China Quantum Technology Takes Off, Japan Takes Notice

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Corporate Japan fights to keep up in quantum computing

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+  Quantum technology applies the principles of quantum mechanics to solve problems in new ways. It has potential applications in secure communications and encryption, collection and analysis of data and the development of advanced technologies. Because quantum communications and encryption are directly related to national security, the Japanese government plans to work with the private sector to advance Japan’s capabilities in the field.

“We need to bring together the expertise of industry, government and academia,” Shinohara said. Eleven companies, including Toshiba, NTT and Hitachi, this summer will form a council tasked with developing the technical and human resource inputs to enable Japan to compete globally in the field. More than 50 companies are expected to join.


+  For these new devices to become a reality, advanced manufacturing techniques are required. Japan has strengths in that regard. According to a survey by Valuenex Japan, an analytics company, Toshiba is No. 1 in the world in hardware patents for quantum communications and encryption, with 104, while NEC ranks third with 88. Toshiba, which has been researching the technology for about 20 years, is also the global leader in terms of speed and distance for sending encryption “keys.”

+  Japan needs to develop its own strategy to compete with the U.S. and China. U.S. information technology companies, such as Google and IBM, are also developing quantum computers. This is expected to take decades, and these companies have abundant capital and human resources. Tackling the IT giants head-on will be difficult, so Japan will have to find its own path to become competitive.

+  Japanese companies are pinning their hopes on “quantum-inspired” computers. These solve complex problems using conventional digital computer technology, while incorporating ideas from quantum mechanics. Unlike quantum computers, which are perhaps 20 years away, quantum-inspired computers are now entering practical use. If Japanese companies succeed in cultivating a new market for these machines, they may have a new, globally competitive technology on their hands.

Source:  Nikkei Asisa.  Akira Oikawa and Takayuki Yao,  Corporate Japan fights to keep up in quantum computing…

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