Japan fights to keep up in quantum computing

Nikkei -- Jun 06
Japan's top companies are joining forces as global competition over next-generation quantum technology grows more intense.

Quantum technology has the potential to revolutionize materials development and artificial intelligence, two areas with profound implications for countries' economic and political security. The focus will be on whether Japanese companies, which lag their Chinese and U.S. rivals in this realm, can develop a market where they are competitive.

"Quantum technology has the potential to promote the development of Japanese industry," said NTT Chairman Hiromichi Shinohara at a May 31 online news conference held by a group of companies focused on fostering the technology.

"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.

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.

In addition to highly secure communications and high-speed computers, companies are trying to create ultrasensitive quantum sensors for use in medicine and other fields.

- Nikkei