MEXT Panel of Experts Final Discussion – Emphasizing the ILC’s Scientific Importance

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (July 5th edition). Read the original here.

The ILC Panel of Experts (Chair: Shinichi Hirano, former president of Nagoya University) held its 11th meeting at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) on July 4th. The panel had a final discussion of its opinions on the altered ILC project with an accelerator starting at 20 km long. The panel emphasized the scientific importance of the ILC: that it could provide clues to issues that are hard to explain with the current standard model, including the mystery of dark matter, through precision measurement of the Higgs particle which has unknown properties. On the other hand, because a sizeable investment is needed for the project, the panel pointed out the necessity of shouldering costs internationally and gaining the understanding and cooperation of scientists in Japan and abroad for the project. The Japanese government is expected to give its final decision on the ILC based on these opinions given by the ILC panel of experts, and by upcoming discussions by the Science Council of Japan.

Thirteen council members were present for the meeting and discussed the draft for their final report. The council agreed that the ILC was scientifically important in that precision measurement of the Higgs boson could provide hints for the future direction of particle physics.

The council indicated that shortening the initial length of the ILC accelerator from 31 kilometers to 20 kilometers would reduce the cost of building the accelerator and detectors down from the original estimate of 1.912 trillion yen to between 735.5 and 803.3 billion yen.

Because the ILC would still require a vast sum of money, the council pointed out it would require international cooperation and the understanding of the Japanese people. Currently, the ILC’s role in each country’s plan and budget is largely unclear, so the council called for caution that the host country isn’t excessively burdened or given too much authority, and for thoroughly spreading awareness of the project as a whole.

A written statement of the panel’s opinion will be created based on the discussions of this last meeting. Chairman Shinichi Hirano stated, “We would like to ask the Science Council of Japan, as the representative body of the Japanese scientific community, to deliberate on this issue a second time making use of the opinions of this council.”

The ILC Panel of Experts was founded in 2014 by MEXT. The panel had been close to reaching a consensus before, but discussed some areas again after the collider’s initial length was revised. MEXT will receive the opinions of the ILC Panel of Experts and then ask the Science Council of Japan to deliberate on the ILC. Researchers involved in the ILC are asking the Japanese government to make their position on the ILC clear by the end of the year. The Japanese government is expected to give its final decision on the ILC based on the opinions of the Science Council of Japan.