-A crucial stage as we approach the government’s decision
-Cost-reduction talks are sped up
-Diet-level diplomacy ramps up
This year is a crucial stage for the ILC project, as the national government shall make their decision on hosting the project in Japan in 2018. Taking on the huge cost is a challenge, so researchers are working quickly to reduce the initial length of the accelerator and other technological advancements. The non-partisan Federation of Diet Members for the ILC (FDMILC) will be visiting the USA in spring, ramping up their diplomatic negotiations by accelerating talks on Japan-US coordination on the ILC.
The largest hurdle for hosting the ILC in Japan is the cost, which will exceed 1 trillion yen on the accelerator, related facilities, and labor costs. A focus is on whether Japan, the USA, Europe, and other member states can work together as an international project to divvy up the burden.
With this in mind, researchers are proceeding with talks to reduce construction costs of the ILC by shrinking the initial 31 km length of the accelerator to 20 km through technological advancements.
This month Prof. Atsuto Suzuki, head of the Tohoku ILC Preparation Office and President of Iwate Prefectural University, spoke about this “staging” method for the ILC at a seminar held by the Iwate Prefecture ILC Promotion Council (Chair: Kunihisa Yamura). “In the beginning we will do experiments at the 20 km length, and then increase it in size. We are carefully examining the costs.”
The non-partisan Federation of Diet Members for the ILC (FDMILC) is also ramping up their activities. This spring they will visit the USA to deliberate on a cooperative framework for bringing the ILC to fruition.
Hon. Takeo Kawamura, Chair of the FDMILC, stressed that, “the ILC will have an impact on the entire world. Realizing the ILC is a matter of pride for a country built on science and technology.” Vice-chair of the FDMILC, Hon. Shunichi Suzuki of Iwate vowed, “We can reduce costs (for ILC construction) through technological breakthroughs.”
In 2014, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT) set up a Panel of Experts on the ILC (Head: Shinichi Hirano, former president of Nagoya University) to deliberate from a number of different angles. They have working groups for reviewing elementary particle physics, the technical design report, and policies for securing and training human resources.
A new working group was created at the February 1st meeting of the Panel, called the Working Group for the Verification of Methods of Structure and Management. Starting next month, they will debate on the management of the international research organization, the preparation of the surrounding area, and systems for implementation. They will further verify these methods throughout the year, and after the Panel of Experts is done comprehensively evaluating the ILC plan, focus will move to the national government and their decision.