A round-table discussion about the prefectural government called “We’re in this together! Iwate” was held on January 17th at the Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center in Hiraizumi Town (southern Iwate, home to World Heritage Site Hiraizumi). Representatives of Iwate manufacturing, tourism, and production industries gathered with local high school students to exchange opinions with Governor Tasso and the prefectural administration on the International Linear Collider, a next-generation particle collider to be built in the Kitakami mountains. The decision on whether or not to host the ILC project will be made by the end of the 2017 fiscal year.
The attendees were Fujio Chida (CEO of Chida Precision Products), Tadashi Sasaki (Representative Director of Agri-Hiraizumi, an agricultural cooperative corporation), Tsuyoshi Mitoya (CEO of Higashi Nihon Kiden Kaihatsu), Yukihiro Takahashi (Senior Managing Director of Mizusawa Tourist Service), Akari Chiba and Sota Chiba (both 2nd year students at Ichinoseki #1 High School). From the prefectural administration side were Governor Tasso, Atsushi Horie (Director General of the Southern Regional Development Bureau), Tatsuo Teramoto (Chief ILC Policy Administrator) and others. After everyone introduced themselves and their activities, they talked about their expectations should the ILC be realized.
Mr. Chida said, “(With the ILC) you can do international work while living in this local area. This means we can give dreams to our young people.” Mr. Sasaki said his organization was promoting the local agricultural industry by reaching out to both visitors and long-time residents through food culture, tourism, green tourism, and producing food/clothing/shelter.
Mr. Mitoya thought that the ILC would be an opportunity to bring change to the environment of Iwate, and asked the prefectural government to support initiatives that would raise interest within myriad industries. Mr. Takahashi said that the ILC would become one of Iwate’s many attractions should it become a reality, and asked the government to make a framework for site tours starting from the construction phase, to solve language barrier issues, and otherwise create an environment that would be able to receive the ILC project.
Akari took the initiative to speak up, saying that while there would need to be increased understanding of the project from the people of Iwate, the ILC would spread awareness of Iwate, increase the amount of people interacting with the prefecture, create a new Iwate, and increase employment. She thought it could also “be an opportunity for students to gain an interest in physics and science.” Sota hoped that the ILC, which would conduct experiments that would unveil the origins of the universe, would push back against the tendency to neglect fundamental science research.
Governor Tasso responded to their opinions and requests while adding information about the prefecture’s projects. He said, “By hearing from the people of the region who have an edge (in these areas), we have gained courage and hope. It is being said that this year will be a moment of truth for the ILC, as the decision will be made this year. We will work with the people of the region to get a good answer for Iwate as quickly as possible.”