(Reporting by the Tokyo Bureau)
At a press conference following a Cabinet Meeting on January 31st, Mr. Hagiuda Koichi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Education (MEXT) stated the following about the ILC: “We will continue to follow the deliberations on the next European Particle Physics plan (2020-2024) as we continue to seriously deliberate on the ILC.” He indicated that they would continue to keep an eye on domestic and international processes as the government makes its decision.
The ILC was placed in a list of projects of academic significance, called the “Large-scale Research Projects” list, within the Science Council of Japan’s master plan, released on the 30th. However, it was not placed in the higher-priority “Important Large-scale Research Projects” list. Regarding this, Minister Hagiuda said, “This plan was put together from the view of those who represent academia. We will refer to this as we debate at the government level.” Furthermore, he stated, “The ILC is not a project that can be carried out by any one country – it is an international project. We have not reached the point where each country has agreed to financially cooperation, so it is not surprising that the ILC was not placed in the high-priority list at this time.”
The ILC was selected as a candidate for further hearings, which is part of the process for eventually being selected as an important large-scale project. This means that it has gained the right to apply to be in MEXT’s Road Map for the promotion of large-scale academic research projects, which will be put together this summer. This would be one of the domestic requirements for being realized. Minister Hagiuda said, “There is also an issue with just how effective the project will be. As we confirm our cooperative ties with international organizations, we will continue to pay close attention to the ILC going forward.”
At his press conference on January 31st, Mr. Takemoto Naokazu, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy (Cabinet Office) said, “The ILC will require a very large budget, but it will serve a purpose in revitalizing the region. I think it should be deliberated on positively. As MEXT deliberates going forward, I’d like to tell them my opinion that, from the stance of science and technology and regional development, we should be more proactive about the ILC.”
Following Mr. Hagiuda’s and Mr. Takemoto’s press conferences, the Tohoku ILC Promotion Council (Representative: Ono Hideo, president of Tohoku University, and Takahashi Hiroaki, honorary chairman of the Tohoku Economic Federation) gave a comment: “The comments from both ministers were reassuring. We will work to prepare Tohoku for the ILC and further strengthen our relationships with all involved.”