Minister of MEXT says they will pay close attention to international trends – the national government to make a decision on the ILC in 2019

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (December 29th edition). Read the original here.

The national government’s decision on hosting the ILC has been pushed to 2019. At his December 28th press conference, the last the of year, Hon. Masahiko Shibayama, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) said, “There is no change to the situation (of us deliberating on the ILC). We will pay close attention to international trends as we think about our future response.”

Hon. Shibayama spoke about the report submitted by the Science Council of Japan to MEXT regarding the importance of the ILC. “They had concerns about the project. As for the national government, we will continue to deliberate taking those concerns into account. There is no change to that situation.”

In December, the Linear Collider Collaboration, the international organization of researchers that called for a decision by 2018, announced that they would move the final deadline to March 7th, 2019.

Hon. Shibayama spoke about that timeline: “The international organization of researchers deemed a decision within 2018 to be unrealistic, so they showed their understanding by moving the deadline to early March 2019. We will pay close attention to international trends as we think about our future response.”

The Science of Council of Japan recognized that the ILC had scientific merit, but raised concerns about international cost-sharing. Their report, submitted to MEXT, concluded that, “With the current plan and state of preparations, the SCJ is not at a point where they can support the project being hosted in Japan.” All eyes are focused on what happens next, with the final decision resting with the national government.

The ILC will be a huge particle physics laboratory with a linear collider (initially 20 km long) built in an underground tunnel. It will be an international project that seeks to unlock the mysteries of the origins of the universe. Its candidate site is in the Kitakami mountains of Iwate Prefecture. Construction costs are estimated to be around 700~800 billion yen.