June marks the kickoff of the ILC Relay Interview Series at THE KITAKAMI TIMES! What is the ILC Relay? We’d like to show more about what how all of Iwate is banding together to support to International Linear Collider Project, so we’re interviewing everyday people who are learning about, and working for, the realization of the project. Our first relay runner is Mr. Ryuji Shimabukuro, a civil servant in Kuji City on the northern coast of Iwate. His main activities include educating the public about a major highway construction project stretching along the coast of Iwate, which is part of reconstruction work from the 2011 tsunami. He also is in charge of a conference about the highway project that aims to show how important this road will be to the region.

We met up with Mr. Shimabukuro at an ILC seminar held in the city, and he let us know his thoughts on the project as well as what Iwate needs to do to make itself a more international place.


Ryuji Shimabukuro
Junior Staff at the Policy Promotion Division,
Department of General Policy,
Kuji City Government.
Originally from Kuji City


Did you know much about the ILC before attending this seminar?

Not so much. I actually thought the “I” in ILC stood for “Iwate” before I starting doing work with the ILC. But with this seminar I was able to learn a lot. The science behind the accelerator is a little bit much for me, but I can see just what an impact it will have on Iwate if we are able to host this international laboratory. I also learned about how we in the region should welcome new foreign residents, as well as what problems they may face living in Japan (due to language and cultural barriers).

Outside City Hall

What do we need to do to make Kuji, and Iwate as a whole, a more international place?

This is a bit of a tangent, but the past two years I actually worked at the Ministry of the Environment in Tokyo. I can’t speak English, but I was able to attend international meetings (with an interpreter). I hadn’t ever been abroad before, but with this assignment I was sent on my first overseas business trip. But not only did I have trouble at the meetings – even at the hotel and other places I encountered some issues. The staff at the front desk was fluent in English, and spoke too quickly for me to understand. I only understood “refrigerator,” so I was able to guess that he was asking if I took anything out of it to eat or drink. I wasn’t able to converse in any real way, and basically could only respond, “no, no.”

Mr. Shimabukuro listening intently to the ILC Caravan lecture

Aside from that, I’ve also visited other local governments where they are further along in promoting environmental administration or tourism or whatnot. Looking at those examples, and then looking objectively at Kuji, I think we’re actually doing pretty well. Other places may be better at promoting their local products (abroad), but I still feel that nothing can beat the food in Kuji. I think we in Kuji take our city for granted, and don’t see a lot of the charm that others do. Since I’ve returned to the city, I’d like to be able to communicate that with others as much as I can. I think what we need to do to make Kuji more international is just to share with each other what is good about Kuji, and learn to promote it better.

I can’t really answer how to make this place a more multicultural society, but I think if we have more opportunities to meet foreign people, we’ll naturally become more multicultural.

I’d actually like to ask you how you feel about living in Japan (as a foreign resident).

I think that, rather than pure English ability (which can be supplemented nowadays with translation apps), we need to be able to explain about how to do basic procedures needed for daily life. Not only do you have to explain what to do, you also need to know that these procedures can be completely different in other countries. An example being getting a driver’s license in Japan. For Iwate, foreign residents of certain countries need to take a technical driving test, which is only administered in the capital of Morioka. You need to prove how long you’ve had your license from your home country, as well as how you learned how to drive. And you can only take the test when you have less than month left on your international driver’s permit. So someone helping foreign residents needs to know all this information and be able to explain it in English, Chinese, etc.

But in general, I also agree with you about Iwate. It’s a beautiful place with great food, tons of things to see. I think researchers will be thrilled to live here. Do you have a message for the ILC researchers abroad?

Hoya served sashimi-style

Kuji is a bit far from the Tokyo area, but we’d love for you to come visit us even if for just once.

We have a lot of seafood that you can’t find elsewhere. Have you ever heard of “hoya?” (Note: Known as a sea squirt or sea pineapple. With a briny flavor and a texture similar to that of an oyster, it goes well with Japanese sake. Want to learn more about this and other delicacies of the sea? Read Anna Thomas’s article on Kesennuma, a coastal city part of the ILC candidate site)

Kuji is also surrounded by mountains, so we have a lot of mountain vegetables. Beef is also big here. So we have a lot of tasty things for you to enjoy when you visit Kuji.


ILCリレー ① - 久慈市 島袋龍二さん

6月から、THE KITAKAMI TIMESがILCリレーをスタートします!ILCリレーとは?ILC実現のためにオール岩手で取り組んでいる姿を発信するために、ILCに興味がある、ILCに取り組んでいる岩手県民の方々にインタビューし、海外までお届けします。一番目は、岩手県久慈市役所の職員、島袋龍二さん。島袋さんの主な業務では、国家プロジェクトである復興道路の一つ、三陸沿岸道路「リアス・ハイウェイ」の果たす役割について理解を深め、整備の必要性を広くアピールすることを目的とした大会の開催を担当しています。


久慈市 総合政策部政策推進課 主事
出身地 久慈市


A)少し話から脱線してしまいますが、昨年度までの2年間は東京都(環境省)に出向していました。英語は話せないのですが、国際会議に出て、通訳付きで話を聞くことも経験しました。これまで海外に行ったことがなかったですが、海外出張に行かせてもらう機会もありました。しかし会議のみならず、ホテルのチェックイン等、仕事以外の場面でも英語が話せないと困りますね。フロントの方も英語が流暢な方でしたので、速すぎて聞き取れませんでした。唯一「冷蔵庫」という単語だけが、チェックアウトのときに聞きとれて、「あ、冷蔵庫の中の物を何か食べたり飲んだりしたかを聞かれているな」と連想できました。結局、ちゃんとした会話ではなく「no, no」しか答えられませんでしたが。







久慈は海の資源が豊富であり、独特な食べ物もあります。ほやを食べたことがありますか?(ほやとは、英語でsea squirtやsea pineappleとして訳されることがあります。海の味もあり、牡蠣に近い食感があります。日本酒と合います。)