On August 31st, the national government ended their period of accepting budgetary requests for the 2018 fiscal year. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) added a request for 260 million yen related to the International Linear Collider (candidate site: Kitakami mountains of Iwate Prefecture). This is a large jump from the 110 million yen requested for the 2017 fiscal year budget, and will push forth joint research between the United States and Japan in reducing construction costs for the project.
MEXT requests it as budget needed to develop fundamental technology that would increase performance, reduce costs, and shrink the physical size of technology needed to make advanced particle colliders. They will pour their effort in improving and developing base technology, as it will aid in reducing costs.
They also intend to allocate some of that budget towards the joint research being done between Japan’s KEK and the US’s Fermilab that started in April. The research is being done to reduce costs in creating and processing the highly-pure niobium used in the superconductive cavities of the particle collider, which would reduce construction costs for the ILC as a whole.
Regarding the ILC, the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), made up of representatives of the world’s major laboratories, confirmed in August that it intended to shrink the initial size of the ILC from 31 km to 20 km. This is predicted to greatly reduce the largest hurdle to building the ILC: the approximately 1.1 trillion yen in construction costs (including labor).
MEXT has set up a Panel of Experts to deliberate on different aspects of the project, such as technological design, training human resources, and how to best manage and operate the ILC. The national government will make a decision on hosting the project based on those deliberations sometime from the end of 2017 to 2018.
Prof. Atsuto Suzuki, director of the Tohoku ILC Preparation Office and President of Iwate Prefectural University, said he would petition the national government: “I’d like to think that this budgetary increase means that they’re looking more positively at hosting the ILC in Japan. I want them to push forward with negotiations with the E.U. along with the U.S.”