The Japanese national government is continuing to deliberate on whether to host the International Linear Collider, a project that hopes to solve the mysteries of the universe. Leading the project at the global level is the Linear Collider Collaboration (LCC), and we asked LCC Director Dr. Lyn Evans (U.K.) about the current situation and future challenges, as well as his request toward the Japanese government.
(Reporting by Satoru Sakaki)
―New experiments at double the energy levels have started at the LHC circular accelerator at CERN in Switzerland.
“The ILC will be able to perform experiments at a higher precision than the LHC, so in that sense the two facilities will complement each other. Scientists around the world are asking for the project, but the greatest challenge is that the Japanese government is not indicating their position. If they would give a sign, CERN would be able to cooperate, and I think the international community would move on the issue.”
―In February, there was a forum for the ILC as well as a meeting of experts in Washington DC. What has happened since then?
“U.S. officials said that they want open deliberations. As long as we can’t yet seriously discuss the ILC, the American side won’t enter talks for project funding. The European side also cannot move unless Japan makes a decision. If the Japanese government is seriously considering the matter, they should make the ILC a topic of discussion at the G7 conference. They know that this project cannot be realized without international support, but it seems that they are not willing to start negotiating.”
―The Japanese national government has formed a council of experts to discuss whether to host the project, and their decision is thought to happen in around 2017-2018.
“I went to Tokyo the other day, where I got the impression that the Japanese government will not make a decision before 2018. It’s almost too late, but in any case that is the time limit. There will be no more time after that. We’re already finding that it’s hard to gather funds. We need capital to survey the topography as well. It may become harder and harder to do these things.”
―Does that mean that obstacles have arisen in preparing the technology for the project?
“At this moment, things are going well. In particular, we are progressing with concrete surveys and research on how to build the ILC in the Kitakami mountains of Iwate. As researchers, we will give our utmost support until 2018. However, the reality is that as time passes, more and more challenges will arise.”
―Hypothetically, what will happen if Japan decides not to host the project?
“This community of international scientists that we worked so hard to build will dissolve. We will cross that bridge when we come to it; however, China is advancing its plans for a more powerful accelerator. If, hypothetically, we could not build the ILC in Japan, we may switch our attention to China. Personally, I’d like to build the ILC in Japan as it possesses the technology required. But in that case, Japan will need to take on half of the costs required.”
―In December 2016, the LCWS meeting on the ILC will take place in Morioka City. What are your expectations?
“I think the researchers will discuss scientific challenges, the design of the ILC, and what kind of experiments would be performed there. The local government in Iwate has shown a very high interest in the project. I think we’ll also have a tour of the Kitakami site. However, the reality is that momentum is low for international conferences, because the Japanese government has been taking so much time to make a decision.”
―Do you have a message for Japan and Iwate?
“If Japan does not go forward with this project, they should be aware that support will move to China. I would like the relevant officials of Iwate to call on the national government for cooperation. There is steady scientific evidence for building the ILC. I also think that there is a meaningful societal component in bringing new relationships to the areas affected by the 2011 disaster. I want the Japanese government to move forward with us.”