We asked the Hon. Shunichi Suzuki, Vice-chair of the FDMILC, about their April trip to the United States to talk about the ILC. How is the US receiving talks about the project? And what are their future plans? (Interview by Shinya Kumagai of Iwate Nippo’s Tokyo Branch)
―What were the achievements of this trip?
“In order to proceed with the ILC project, our first priority is to create a framework between the US and Japan. We were able to have a frank dialogue about what to do next with the Trump administration. We had a meeting with Congress members and representatives of the Hudson Institute, and awareness of the need for the ILC has grown over the past 1-2 years.”
―What changes did you see as a result of the change in administrations?
“The US side has said this as well, but uncertainty has grown within the science and technology fields. One issue is personnel. Currently at the Dept. of Energy, there is only the Secretary of Energy, and other political appointments have not yet been filled. They said they will be prepared by autumn. There is a group made up of members of the Dept. of Energy and Japan’s MEXT that is discussing the ILC, but we probably cannot get any political decisions done if the personnel aren’t filled, even if we are able to have lower-level discussions.”
“On the budgetary side of things, President Trump intends to cut the science and technology budget. However, US Congress has a lot of power regarding the budget, and recently some organizations have been able to rally with Congress to get a positive result. We saw that it is very important to deepen the understanding of the ILC in Congress.”
―Where would you like the US to focus on in their consideration of the ILC?
“We want them to focus on the fact that we must decide on a management system for the ILC. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is taking longer than expected to be completed, and its budget has doubled, tripled. By deciding upon a management system, it will be easier for the Dept. of State to have confidence to make a decision within the US government. We must also reduce the costs of the project.”
“We also had discussions about getting American businesses to show an interest and participate in the project. With the new Trump administration, employment and economic effects are one standard of making decisions. Positive economic effects in the US thanks to the ILC would give the project a huge appeal to the administration.”
―What’s next for the FDMILC?
“This next year will be crucial. The thinking in Japan has become entrenched in the idea that the ILC requires a huge budget. This is one bottleneck regarding the national government’s decision. Scientists in Japan, the US, and Europe will continue to make calculations about firm ways to reduce the numbers, and in the final stages, those numbers will be used to push the Japanese government to make a decision. Additionally, there will be benefits to fields like healthcare through the technology used in the accelerator. We will continue to push for the government’s cooperation through cost cutting and realistic expectations.”