(Inagaki Daisuke reporting from Menlo Park, USA)
On February 21st (Japan time) the International Committee for Future Accelerators held an international meeting at the SLAC National Accelerator Lab at Menlo Park, California. There, Japan’s Ministry of Science (MEXT) gave the government’s position on hosting the ILC: “Challenges like international cost-sharing must be resolved.” They also said that, “MEXT will discuss the ILC project with the US and Europe while having an interest in the project.”
Around fifty researchers were in attendance including leaders of the world’s leading accelerator facilities. Masuko Hiroshi, deputy director of MEXT’s Research Promotion Bureau, spoke about the project’s status in Japan. Because the ILC had been placed within the Science Council of Japan’s Master Plan released at the end of January, he said, “The ILC Project can be considered for MEXT’s Road Map, which lists large-scale scientific research projects with high priorities.”
He explained that, “the US side commented that it would support Japan should it decide to host the ILC.” He also revealed that the United States had said it would be possible to make in-kind contributions.
Japan had its first quadrilateral discussion with the UK, France, and Germany this month. Regarding international cost-sharing, he said that, “they have commitments to various projects and do not have the financial leeway to participate in the ILC project at this moment.”
The government’s position, taking into account developments thus far, was that, “The ILC project needs to resolve its various challenges, including technical feasibility and international cost sharing, as well as obtain broad internal and external cooperation.” He also said, “In consideration of its certain scientific significance in particle physics, MEXT will discuss the ILC project with the US and the European counterparts while having an interest in the project.”
According to those in attendance, Hon. Kawamura Takeo, leader of the Federation of Diet Members for the ILC, gave a speech at the venue, saying, “The Japanese government has not yet decided to become the host country, but it has a strong interest in the project.” He reiterated his “Science First” position.
Mr. Masuko spoke with Iwate Nippo following the meeting, and said, “We have continued inter-governmental talks since March of last year. We will continue to work positively moving forward. We will start research and development with Germany and France next fiscal year in order to lower construction costs.”
Lyn Evans, director of the Linear Collider Collaboration organization within ICFA, said, “This statement on the government’s position was more proactive than the one given last year. We were able to affirm their positive desire in the ILC.”
In March of last year, MEXT gave their position at an ICFA meeting that they were not able to state a decision on hosting the ILC at this time, but that they had an interest in the ILC and would continue international talks. This is their first statement of their position since that time.