Video game director Yu Suzuki is known worldwide for his creations: Shenmue, Space Harrier, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA…and too many more to list here. In between development of the long-awaited Shenmue III, Suzuki has joined up with one more project called the ILC.
The International Linear Collider (ILC) is the name for a next generation particle collider being planned for the mountains of northern Japan. Similar to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, this facility would smash particles at close to the speed of light in order to study what happened at the beginning of the universe. Recently, famous figures from the Japanese entertainment world have joined together as the ILC Supporters in order to raise awareness among the general public. One of those is Yu Suzuki, and he recently gave an interview describing why he’s joined the effort.
English translation by Amanda Wayama with some clarification added. The original Japanese article can be found at the ILC Supporters official website. Pictures courtesy of the ILC Supporters. Please do not reproduce or take without permission.
We’d like to introduce you to a new interview series where we hear directly from the big names of the ILC Supporters world! We’ve called this “Supporters’ Voice”, and we will hear from ILC Supporters about their reasoning for joining, and why they’re such big fans of the ILC project!
For our first interview, we’ve sat down with game designer Yu Suzuki, creator of hit games like Virtua Fighter and Shenmue!
Nice to meet you! This is student ILC Supporter Tsukamoto!
The other day, I interviewed Yu Suzuki, game director and CEO of YS NET.
I’d like to share with you Yu Suzuki’s passion for the ILC below (*^^*)
For the reconstruction of my home, Iwate
Tsukamoto: “What made you join the ILC Supporters?”
Suzuki: “Takeuchi-san [Hiroaki Takeuchi, an anime producer] told me that Mamoru Oshii (director of hits like Ghost in the Shell, and creator of the ILC Supporters group) was calling for members. I’m good friends with Oshii-san so that’s why I joined (haha). Well, it’s not just that. I have been thinking for a long time about the most effective way to help out my home, Iwate Prefecture, which was one of the areas of northern Japan hit by the 2011 tsunami. When I heard about this project [which is sited for the Kitakami mountains of Iwate], I knew I could be useful, and I just had to join.”
Tsukamoto: “How are things in Iwate? Are the people there excited about the ILC?”
Suzuki: “I’m not sure because I don’t go home too often, but I don’t think you hear much about the ILC. The first order of business is to get the attention of the people of Iwate and the people of Tokyo, so we can tell them about the ILC. I’m most focused on the reconstruction (of the coastal areas of Iwate), so I hope for people to do their best in Iwate, and from there I think the message will spread out to Tokyo and the rest of Japan.”
It’s not the results – it’s the process
Tsukamoto: “How should the people of Iwate learn more about the ILC? This is a big project for Japan as a whole, but the people that will be most involved on a long-term scale will be the people living in that area.”
Suzuki: “I’m not in Iwate so I’m not sure, but I hope that people get a correct understanding about the ILC.”
Tsukamoto: “Perhaps people without much scientific background might have some anxiety about a big physics facility being built nearby…”
Suzuki: “I think it’s crucial to teach the facts about the ILC to people before they have a chance to decide based on hearsay. But that’s very difficult to do, as we don’t know the future and what the ILC may bring. The process is what’s important here – and what we can say is that us working towards the ILC will bring about things that may be even greater than the ILC itself.”
Tsukamoto: “What would you like to say to the people of Iwate?”
Suzuki: “Whatever happens in the end, the ILC will end up fostering new dreams in the hearts of the children of Iwate. I think the ILC is so important because it will lead Japan to a new future. There’s no mistake in the fact that this will project will be very important to our future. I can say that without question.”
Tsukamoto: “What do you mean?”
A project that will inspire children
Suzuki: “If the ILC is built, science and culture will mix in new ways. Foreign scientists will interact with Japanese, and the differences in culture will give birth to new things and inspire the children of the area. I can say that with confidence because it was true for me.”
Suzuki: “My family owned an inn, and there was a science facility nearby that researched rockets and air balloons. There were a lot of scientists and researchers who came to stay in our inn when I was a child. It was very exciting for me when they would tell me about their research. If I hadn’t had that experience as a child, I doubt I could make games in the way I have.”
Tsukamoto: “They must have had quite an impression on you for those talks to stay with you all this time.”
Suzuki: “I don’t know what the ILC will lead to, but like with my childhood, it will definitely be a good influence on the children. And they’ll be able to hear from not only Japanese researchers, but from researchers from around the world. They’ll teach them about particle physics, and at the same time, I’m hoping they’ll show them a path to the future. Like a time machine.”
We will be able to create the world humans dream of
Tsukamoto: “Did those experiences at the inn lead you to your interest in science?”
Suzuki: “I was very into science fiction in elementary and middle school, and I actually looked up whether there really was such a thing as a time machine. I came across Einstein, and that led me to the universe and the big bang. For me, everything is linked with my interest in science fiction.”
Tsukamoto: “I wonder how the world will change as science and technology (like the ILC) gets even more advanced.”
Suzuki: “I think we’ll be able to get close to realizing the things we only imagine now. I don’t think we’ll be able to go places we can’t first imagine, but people will eventually be able to create anything they imagine. I think we’ll even be able to make flying cars. A lot of people right now think of AI as bad or as an enemy, but that’s because they don’t understand it much. It’s all in the morals and ethics behind the people who use the technology. Science itself is never bad.”
Leading to a valuable future
Tsukamoto: “What would you like the ILC Supporters to accomplish?”
Suzuki: “I think the ILC is currently the most valuable, future-looking project in Japan. Nothing happens without relationships, and here the world’s top scientists will forge long-term relationships with Japan. I can guarantee good things will come from this. So, our challenge as ILC Supporters is to figure out how to to communicate that and how to think about that.”
It was the first time for me to meet Mr. Suzuki, but he was very nice, with a big smile on his face, so it was fun! In between ILC talk, we also chatted about Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg, so it was just a really interesting talk!
We also have a video message from Mr. Suzuki for everyone out there – please take a look! (in Japanese only)
Translation ends here.
If you’d like to learn more about the ILC, please check out an explainer here.
Keep track of all the developments on the ground by following our Twitter, Iwate & the ILC: @IwateILC