Like everywhere else in the world, Iwate has been suffering from the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many projects were put on hold, and the prefecture worked tirelessly to get aid to businesses struggling to stay open during stay-at-home requests. But this is the age of Zoom and remote work, so we were able to log online and keep things going. This year, Iwate kept continuing its support of preparations to bring the ILC to Japan, working with our counterparts across the world as the ILC moves towards the preparatory phase.

The ILC in 2020

Here’s what’s been happening with the ILC.

(For a more detailed report of the past couple years, please check out the JAHEP Steering Panel’s report: )

① January 2020: The ILC is placed on the list of Large-Scale Research Projects in the 2020 Master Plan

The Science Council of Japan established their “24th Master Plan for Large-Scale Research Projects (Master Plan 2020)”, and within, the ILC Project was selected for their list of Large-Scale Research Projects.

Back on March 7th, 2019, the national government stated that it would be necessary to deliberate on the ILC through official academic processes. Being selected for the Master Plan 2020’s list of Large-Scale Research Projects means that those official academic processes are likely underway, and the domestic science community has determined that the ILC project has scientific significance.

② February 2020: The Japanese national government reiterates its interest in the ILC, and ICFA suggests the establishment of an international development team

At the meeting of the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA) in February 2020, the Japanese national government gave a presentation on its initiatives since March 2019 as well as their understanding of the current state of affairs of the project. They once again voiced their interest in the ILC project.

ICFA praised the intergovernmental deliberations being held by Japan, USA, and Europe in order to push forth cooperation on the ILC, and told the Japanese government that they welcomed such efforts.

Additionally, they stated that a preparatory phase for the ILC was necessary for establishing the research organization and constructing the facility. In order to move towards that preparatory phase, they recommended the formation of an international development team.

③ June 2020: The European Strategy for Particle Physics is updated, making it clear that Europe will cooperate on the ILC project

In June 2020, the CERN Board of Directors held a meeting where they approved and published the European Strategy for Particle Physics.

The document is a long term strategy for particle physics in Europe, and with this update, a fundamental strategy has been decided for the years 2020 to 2027.

Within the strategy, it was stated that an electron-positron Higgs factory was the highest priority for the next collider and the timely realization of the electron-positron ILC would be compatible with the European strategy – in which case they hope to cooperate. This is much more direct language than what was found in the 2013-2020 strategy, and Europe’s cooperative stance has become clear.

④ August 2020: The ILC International Development Team is formed, and the Tohoku ILC Project Development Center is established in Tohoku to coordinate with the team

In August 2020, the ILC International Development Team (IDT)’s formation was approved by ICFA, and Japan’s High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) became the host institution to the team. The team members were announced in September.

The IDT will work on all necessary preparations to create the ILC preparatory organization until the end of 2021.

In response, the ILC candidate site of Tohoku established the Tohoku ILC Project Development Center.

This center will examine what challenges need to be tackled and how the host region can take charge in preparing the candidate site for the ILC and constructing the facility. They will support the work of the IDT.

Iwate and the ILC in 2020

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the events in and outside of the prefecture that we use to publicize the ILC ended up being cancelled or their parameters changed. However, we were able to use the internet to hold online events and lectures for people not only in Iwate, but in far off places.

An ILC lecture held on September 24


A quiz video shown at Science Agora (only in Japanese)

A seminar on the Green ILC on December 17


-January 30,
 The ILC project is selected for the list of Large-Scale Research Projects within the Science Council of Japan’s Master Plan 2020


-February 20,
 At a meeting of ICFA (International Committee for Future Accelerators), the Japanese national government makes a presentation on their initiatives since March 2019 (opinion exchanges with USA and Europe) as well as their understanding of the current situation of the ILC. They once again voice their interest in the ILC.
-February 22,
 Taking the Japanese government’s declaration into account, ICFA demonstrates that it welcomes the timely construction of the ILC in Japan, and proposes the establishment of an international development team to take the project to the preparatory phase.



-June 19,
 The update to the European Strategy for Particle Physics is approved at the CERN’s Board of Directors meeting, and Europe’s cooperative stance regarding the ILC is made clear.

Materials from KEK’s June 26th media salon:


European Strategy for Particle Physics Update:


-August 2,
 At ICFA, the establishment of the ILC International Development Team was approved for activities aimed at establishing the preparatory organization for the ILC



-August 6,
 The Tohoku ILC Project Development Center is established to coordinate with the ILC International Development Team and conduct examinations of how to prepare the candidate site environment for the ILC



-September 11,
 ICFA announces the members of the ILC International Development Team.




What else has been going on in Iwate?

Even though the ILC was taking steps forward this year, COVID-19 threw a wrench into many of our plans. A majority of events had to be cancelled or postponed, most notably the 2020 Olympics. Summer was a rather quiet season this year, as famous festivals like Morioka’s Sansa Odori Parade had to be shuttered in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Iwate has been proactive in disseminating information and encouraging our residents to follow safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Interestingly, we were the last prefecture in Japan to see cases of COVID. We remained the only prefecture in Japan to be virus-free until July 29th, and while winter has seen a rise in cases much like elsewhere in the world, we have plenty of hospital beds secured for anyone who may need emergency care. For its foreign residents, the Iwate prefectural government provides timely translations of relevant information about the virus and advice of what to do in English on its homepage.

It wasn’t all about the virus in 2020 either. This year was the last ever YuruKyara Grand Prix in October but we got the opportunity to host it here in Iwate – this is a nationwide event where all those cute mascot characters from around Japan come together and battle it out for most popular character! This year the winner was actually from Iwate – the little fairy creature known as Takata no Yume-chan of Rikuzentakata City, who was designed to give hope to all. Over 14,000 people came to this event, but as it was held outdoors and attendants followed the strict coronavirus measures were in place, we saw zero cases of COVID resulting from this event.

About Takata no Yume-chan:

Born on January 4, 2012, Takata no Yume-chan is a fairy creature glowing with light of hope from the star on its head, and has dreams and happiness stuffed into its backpack (shaped like a camellia flower, which grow in the region). Its ears are designed after the pine trees that used to grow on Takata Matsubara beach.

Profile: (JPN)

Awards Ceremony at the Yurukyara Grand Prix

Takata no Yume-chan (and people with masks in the background)

One interesting change this has brought about is the boom of takeout in Iwate. Takeout and delivery were not as common up here before the pandemic but now Iwate is full of tasty menu options you can enjoy at home while supporting your favorite restaurant. (If you can read Japanese, some of my favorite new Twitter accounts are ones like TOGO IWATE boosting information on available takeout). I think one of the first ways I realized life would never be the same was when I walked down Odori Street (the main restaurant area in Morioka, the capital) in April, and all I could see was shops setting up tables outside where you could buy bento boxes for lunch.

Hopefully this year all of the measures of the virus will work to stamp down infection, and we can start a return to normalcy. The six prefectures of Tohoku are preparing for a Tohoku Destination Campaign running for April to September 2021, with special attractions prepared like Sansa Odori performances held (almost) every day at the Tsunagi Onsen area, or Doburoku (a local type of sake)-making classes in Tono. In Tokyo, a “Tohoku House” will be set up in the summer which will basically be a big facility giving out information about the Tohoku prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, and Niigata. It’s hard to say whether international travel will be possible during these times, but if things have calmed down by then, we certainly would love to have our friends visit from abroad.

2021 – one decade since March 11th

The Lone Pine Tree in Rikuzentakata that miraculously survived the tsunami (by the by, Takata no Yume-chan lives here)

2021 also marks 10 years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The towns and cities along the coast have been working to rebuild their homeland, and if you take a drive by the area now, you’ll see new roads, new public facilities, new buildings and new shopping centers. There are still challenges to be overcome regarding our reconstruction. But in a way, I think that crisis of ten years ago has helped foster a sense of seriousness about disaster in the people of Iwate that has helped them to be extra cautious and follow recommended safety measures during the pandemic as well.

Ten years after the disaster, Iwate hopes to use this year to once again thank all the people that helped it rebuild, and show the world that we have built back better.

What’s next for THE KITAKAMI TIMES?

We hope to continue sharing what’s happening on the ground at the candidate site, as well as showcase the interesting culture and area of Iwate! We have to get back into the habit of using Twitter though – this year there should be a lot of movement from the International Development Team so we hope to keep abreast of all that is happening!

It may be some more time before we can see everyone in person again, but we’ll keep reporting back with THE KITAKAMI TIMES!





(より詳細な動向については、高エネルギー物理学研究者会議 ILC推進パネルのレポートをご覧ください。)

① 2020年1月:マスタープラン2020でILC計画は学術大型研究計画に選定

② 2020年2月:日本政府が改めてILC計画への関心を表明、ICFAは国際推進チームの設立を推奨

③ 2020年6月:欧州素粒子物理戦略が更新され、ILC計画に対するヨーロッパの協力姿勢が明確に

④ 2020年8月:ILC国際推進チームが設立、東北では国際推進チーム等に協力するための東北ILC事業推進センターが設立



【写真】 9月24日に開催したILC講演会

【動画】 サイエンスアゴラに出展したクイズ動画(日本語のみ)

【写真】 12月17日に開催したグリーンILCセミナー

日 内容
① 2020年
1月30日 日本学術会議が策定するマスタープラン2020でILC計画は学術大型研究計画に選定された。

② 2020年
2月20日 ICFA(国際将来加速器委員会)にて日本政府がH31.3月以降の取組(米欧との意見交換の実施)や現状認識等を発表し、改めてILCへの関心を表明した。
2月22日 日本政府表明を受け、ICFAがILCの日本へのタイムリーな建設を望む考えを表すとともに、準備段階移行に向けた国際推進チームの設立を提言した。

③ 2020年
6月19日 欧州素粒子物理戦略の更新がCERN理事会で承認され、ILC計画に対するヨーロッパの協力姿勢が明確に示された。

④ 2020年
8月2日 ICFAで、ILC準備研究所設立に向け活動するILC国際推進チームの設立が承認された。

8月6日 ILC国際推進チーム等に協力し、ILCの受入れ環境整備等の実務的検討を行う東北ILC事業推進センターが設立。

9月11日 ICFAが、ILC国際推進チームの構成メンバーを発表。





 2012 年1 月4 日に生まれた高田の夢ちゃんは妖精であり、頭の星は希望の光で満ちていて、背中の羽根で自由に飛び回り、椿の花のバッグの中に入っている夢・幸せをみんなに届けます。耳は高田松原の松をイメージしています。



 続いて、コロナ禍において、ちょっと興味深い社会変化が起こっています。岩手においてはテイクアウトがずいぶん流行るようになりました。以前は、テイクアウトや出前は海外に比べて少し珍しいものだと感じていましたが、現在は、好きなレストランを応援しながらおうちで食べられるメニューがたくさんあります。(日本語が読める方へ→岩手におけるテイクアウトを日頃つぶやいている新ツイッターをお勧めします! TOGO IWATE )私自身の話ですが、4月に盛岡市大通を歩き、たくさんのレストランやお店が外で弁当を販売している風景を眺めたとき、世界が変わったな、と思いました。








 直接お会いできる日まではまだまだ時間がかかりそうですが、引き続き、THE KITAKAMI TIMESで情報を共有していきます!