25-member Q-STAR quantum alliance to boost Japan's competitive advantage

Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsui Sumitomo, Mizuho Financial, NEC, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, Sumitomo Corp, Toshiba, Toyota, and 14 other Japanese giants will work together to progress quantum computing.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

25 Japanese companies have joined forces to create a new strategic alliance to collectively progress work in the field of quantum computing.

The Founders' Association of the Council for New Industry Creation through Quantum Technology was formed in May to advance preparations for establishing an industry council to promote initiatives in quantum technologies. On Wednesday, the companies involved formally established the council under a new name, the Quantum Strategic Industry Alliance for Revolution (Q-STAR).

"The quantum age is now approaching and expectations are growing worldwide for the realisation of safe, secure lifestyles and a better society. Japan aims to position itself as a quantum technology innovation-oriented nation, and to create new industries through services that leverage its strengths in materials, devices, measuring technologies, computers and communications, simulations, and other technologies," Fujitsu said in a statement on behalf of the group.

"Q-STAR will contribute to this with global leadership in the promotion of activities that advance science and technology in this new era, and by promoting Japanese industry and strengthening international competitiveness."

Q-STAR members include Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Mizuho Financial Group, NEC, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation, Toshiba, and Toyota Motor Corporation.

The steering committee consists of Toshiba president and CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa as chair, Fujitsu CEO and CDXO Takahito Tokita, executive chairman and CEO of Hitachi Toshiaki Higashihara, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation president and CEO Masayuki Waga, NEC chairman of the board Nobuhiro Endo, Nippon chairman of the board Hiromichi Shinohara, and Toyota chairman of the board of directors Takeshi Uchiyamada.

They will be charged with investigating and researching trends in quantum technology, as well as proposing industrial applications of the tech across multiple fields; investigating and examining quantum-related technologies; making a proposal for required human resources; looking into systems and rules; and collaborating with quantum-related organisations in Japan and overseas.

Q-STAR also boasts subcommittees that will focus on quantum wave and quantum probability theory applications, quantum superposition applications, optimisation and combinatorial problems, and quantum cryptography and quantum communications.

"Q-STAR will invite the participation of diverse industries that support its objectives and initiatives, and will collaborate with industry, academia, and government in promoting initiatives that apply new technologies, and establishing related technology platforms," Fujitsu explained.

On Thursday, Fujitsu also announced its simulated quantum computer is now being used by a major global shipping company to optimise its cargo ship loading.

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) has introduced Fujitsu's quantum-inspired Digital Annealer technology in a bid to streamline complex stowage planning for car carriers.

"The Digital Annealer will play a role in automating aspects of the stowage planning process for NYK's dedicated car carriers, an enormously complex task involving a vast number of possible stowage patterns depending on the number of vehicles loaded, models of vehicles, and the number of ports called along the shipping route," Fujitsu explained.

After successful initial tests, Fujitsu and NYK have launched a real-world operational trial of the technology with an aim to commence full-scale operational use in April 2022.


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