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EDITORIAL: Quantum Technology Can Rebuild Japan as Science & Technology Nation

Creating the environment to realize Japan's economic and social potential will take open public-private partnerships with quantum technology at their core.

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Dr Yasunobu Nakamura is Director of the Quantum Computer Research Center. He led the development of the first domestically-produced next-generation "quantum computer" in operation at the RIKEN Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, on the morning of March 27. (© Sankei by Shunsuke Sakamaki)

We applaud the first Japanese computer using quantum technology. Building it has given us the power to bring innovation to society. 

The smallest building blocks of matter, like atoms and electrons, have such mysterious properties that Einstein openly rejected the theory. It's a significant feat that humans were able to harness these properties and also use them in technology. 

Imagining a Better World through Quantum Caluclations

In addition to computing, quantum computers are expected to be used for data communication and strong encryption. But there are many rudimentary steps that must be taken before the technology is at a usable level. Dr Yasunobu Nakamura of The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), which led the development of the Japan's first quantum computer, said: 

There is a large scope of fields that we can contribute to. We want people from various backgrounds to experiment with it.

There are two goals for these projects. The first is to have technology originating in Japan that the United States and China, which lead the race to put quantum computers into practical use, cannot ignore. 

The second is to increase the variety, proficiency, and experience in the use of quantum technology. There should be a focus on the second goal without getting too caught up in the race for practical application.

quantum technology
Yasunobu Nakamura, director of RIKEN's Quantum Computer Research Center, holds a press conference about Japan's first quantum computer. (© Sankei by Shunsuke Sakamaki)

Developing Quantum Into Supercomputer Strength

Japan has the world's most advanced supercomputers. But it has fallen behind various countries in artificial intelligence development and the digitalization of society. In quantum technology, there will come a stage when industrial competitiveness and national power will be greatly affected ー not by performance or development speed, but by how it is used and implemented into society.

We should cultivate the basic ability to use and implement quantum technology into society. That way, we can compete with the United States and China. Both, of course, have abundant funding and human resources. A Japanese quantum computer that can be used via the internet by universities and industry is the first step in this process. 

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Japan's scientific and technological capabilities are tending towards serious decline. Meanwhile, due to the promise seen in domestic jets and the organic electro-luminescence industry, there has been an injection of public funding. However, the result has been the withdrawal of businesses and bankruptcies. 

Expanding Public-Private Partnerships

Closed public-private partnerships is where the government encourages research and development by supporting a limited number of companies. That itself cannot break through the lead of the US, Europe, and China, however.

Quantum technology also has broad ramifications for science, industry, society and daily life. At the same time, it is a key for advancing cryptography and the military. It will also be important to have an environment where a wide range of companies and diverse human resources ー not just a few companies and researchers ー have access to domestically-produced quantum computers. 

Of course, care must be taken to ensure that China, Russia, and other despotic powers do not use it to build supremacy.

An "open" public-private partnership network is needed where industry, government, and academia cooperate with quantum technology at its core. Moreover, building such a network is vital to ensure Japan is rebuilt as a nation of science and technology. And it is essential to revitalize the country.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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