On March 7th, the Japanese national government will make its position clear on the ILC clear for the very first time. An official from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) will make a statement at a meeting of the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), a group made up of the leaders of major accelerator labs across the world. All eyes are on the national government, because if they demonstrate a positive stance towards the ILC, then it is possible that international negotiations will then start, moving ever closer to bringing the project to reality.
The ICFA meeting will be held at the University of Tokyo, starting at 9 am, and will be closed to the press. Keisuke Isogai, the head of MEXT’s Research Promotion Bureau, is planning to attend and state the national government’s position at the beginning of the meeting. Afterwards, he will then give a press conference at 10 am in a separate room.
Geoffrey Taylor, ICFA Chair, and Tatsuya Nakada, Chair of Linear Collider Board (LCB), will hold a briefing in response to the result of the meeting, along with Masanori Yamauchi, Director General of KEK laboratory. They will brief the press on future prospects for the ILC.
In December 2018, officials of the Linear Collaboration Council (LCC) set the deadline for the Japanese government to demonstrate their position as March 7th, 2019. The Science Council of Japan had been tasked by MEXT to deliberate on the ILC, and while they recognized that the project had scientific merit, they were concerned by the cost and whether it could be shared with other countries, so they answered that they could not yet support the ILC at this time. The national government is responsible for the final decision.
Atsuto Suzuki (current president of Iwate Prefectural University, and former director-general of KEK) has long been a player in pushing the ILC project forward. He is paying attention to how the meeting will develop: “These organizations are not asking for a final decision from Japan, just that they start international negotiations. Japan needs to show Europe that it has a positive stance on the ILC as Europe heads into planning its next Strategy for Particle Physics (2020-2024).”