Editorial Feature

Regional Spotlight: Advancements in Quantum Technology in Japan

Japan is making a significant push in quantum technology development, aiming to keep pace with global efforts to realize fully functional quantum systems in the near future.

The development of quantum technology is expanding quickly, utilizing the unique laws of quantum mechanics to produce novel and inventive devices. This relies on the unusual properties of subatomic particles, such as superposition and entanglement.

Superposition describes the ability of a quantum entity to exist simultaneously in two or more states. When two quantum systems are entangled, measuring one instantly causes the other to change, regardless of how far apart they are. Leveraging these properties, quantum technology uses qubits, which are the quantum analog of bits in conventional computing.

The qubit’s ability to exist simultaneously as a 0, 1, or both enables the performance of intricate computations that examine numerous options at once. This makes it a powerful and transformational development. Quantum technology platforms are generated using neutral atoms, superconductors, trapped ions, and single photon emitters or photons themselves.

The major applications of quantum-enabled devices are computing, sensing, communications, and simulations.

Commercializing Quantum Technology

Controlling qubits has historically been a challenge; however, the development of quantum error correction theory and the advancement of qubit operation in various physical systems has expedited the quantum technology landscape.

The quantum computer boom began approximately a decade ago when the performance of superconducting qubits significantly improved. This led major IT corporations, like Google, IBM, and Microsoft, to embark on extensive research and development in quantum computing.

Prospects for Quantum Technology in Japan

China, the U.S., and Europe began significantly increasing government backing for quantum technologies around 2015. Japan, entering the race a few years later, aimed to align its national interests with key deliverables. In 2022, the Japanese government increased its funding for quantum technology, committing to more than double its current investment.

Japan introduced the "Quantum Technology and Innovation Strategy" in 2020 and the "Vision of Quantum Future Society" in 2022. The goal of these initiatives is described below.

Quantum Technology and Innovation Strategy

Through the Quantum Technology and Innovation Strategy, Japan encourages research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and commercialization of important technologies, aiming to secure an advantage in the race to attain "quantum technology and innovation" as soon as possible. These efforts are supported by five key pillars: technology development, international collaboration, industrialization and innovation, intellectual property and international standardization, and human resource development.

Vision of Quantum Future Society

By integrating quantum technology into the larger socioeconomic system and fusing it with classical computing systems, the goal is to create new opportunities for industry to expand and address social issues.

This initiative also aims to establish and accelerate the development of businesses and startups in the quantum technology field by providing support, including the creation of testbeds with artificial intelligence (AI), information, and communication technologies like Beyond 5G, to encourage the adoption of quantum technology.

Q-STAR

Aiming to transform Japan into a "quantum technology innovation-oriented nation," the Quantum Strategic Industry Alliance for Revolution (Q-STAR) was founded in 2021. Q-STAR is expediting the integration of quantum technology into society. Its members are drawn from a range of business backgrounds, including startups, large corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, and academic organizations.

To create the quantum technology-related businesses of the future, Q-STAR is committed to actively collaborating with institutions across corporate and industrial borders, working with organizations in a variety of sectors worldwide.

As displayed in its mission statement, Q-STAR's objectives include aspiring to have ten million users of quantum technology in Japan by 2030. It aims to encourage the commercialization of quantum technology by creating a program to attract and educate human resources in quantum and related sectors. Q-STAR aims to make it widely recognized, both domestically and internationally, that the application of quantum technology is critical to the future of humanity.

The Future of Quantum Technology in Japan

Regional Spotlight: Advancements in Quantum Technology in Japan

Image Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock.com

Like many countries, Japan faces several challenges in advancing quantum technology and its implementation. Despite other governments’ significant investments in this area, Japan has leveraged its strong scientific base to remain competitive and bridge the gap.

A universal challenge in quantum computing is the restricted number of qubits and the fact that they are prone to errors. Like other nations, Japan is attempting to construct massive, fault-tolerant quantum computers. Converting quantum technology's theoretical promise into practical uses is an essential step. To find areas where quantum technology clearly has an edge, researchers, engineers, and companies must work together.

The lack of uniform standards complicates the design of software and the integration of various quantum technologies. Japan is actively participating in global initiatives to establish these guidelines.

A skilled workforce is crucial for the quantum technology industry to thrive. Thus, Japan must invest in the education and training of the next generation of programmers, engineers, and quantum physicists.

Japan is advancing rapidly in quantum technology, supported by substantial financial investment, a well-defined plan, and a focus on real-world implementations. While they may be playing catch up, the progress Japan is making in this field is noteworthy.

More from AZoQuantum: Regional Spotlight: The Quantum Race in Ireland

References and Further Reading

Sogawa, T. (no date). Expectations and Prospects for Innovation in Quantum Technology. [Online] NTT R&D. Available at: https://www.rd.ntt/e/research/JN202304_21549.html

Q-STAR (no date). Unleashing New Industries and Business Opportunities with Quantum Innovation. [Online] Q-Star. Available at: https://qstar.jp/

Kizuna (2022). Touching the Cutting Edge of Quantum Technology in the Homeland of the Superconducting Qubit. [Online]. Kizuna. Available at: https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/2022/05/cutting_edge_of_quantum_technology.htm

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Written by

Ilamaran Sivarajah

Ilamaran Sivarajah is an experimental atomic/molecular/optical physicist by training who works at the interface of quantum technology and business development.

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