The Japanese government plans to accelerate its research and development of quantum cryptography technology to be able to put it into practical use in 2025, sources knowledgeable of the matter said.
The next-generation technology will allow greater encryption security for diplomatic and business correspondence, and Japan is trying not to fall behind nations like the United States and China, which has invested in quantum information science.
The government wants an environment in 2025 where quantum encryption can be used across Japan, and will study how to use optical fiber networks already in place, the sources said.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' budget request for fiscal 2020 to be submitted at the end of August will include 1.5 billion yen ($14 million) for research and development of the technology, they said.
Japan envisions a future of communication networks involving satellites that will allow the use of the encryption technology during video conference calls with foreign leaders and exchanges of confidential diplomatic information.
The technology entails transmitting photons down an optic fiber to the receiving unit, where they will turn into a single-use key to decrypt a parallel stream of data.
Stealing information using quantum cryptography methods is difficult as the photons are in indeterminate states, representing various possible patterns of one and zero at the same time, until they are observed. If a third party intercepts the data transmission, the photons will be modified so that there will be no key.
Encrypted data held by governments and companies are currently protected because extensive time is needed for supercomputers to crack encryption involving numerous algorithms.
But in time, their encryptions may become unraveled by quantum computers, fueling international competition over them to protect confidential information.
China has designated quantum information science as one of its "megaprojects" in its technology development plan for 2006 to 2020.
In 2017, it became the first country to operate a long-distance quantum communication landline between Beijing and Shanghai and conduct the first quantum-encrypted video call.