Researchers remain optimistic following the SCJ’s report – final decision rests with national government

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (December 20th edition). Read the original here.

Researchers associated with the ILC were optimistic regarding the SCJ’s final report on their deliberations on the ILC, submitted to MEXT on December 19th (the draft had been revised since its public release in November). There were fears that the report may have taken until 2019, but it was finished within the year. The international deadline for the Japanese national government to voice its intentions on the ILC is March 7th, 2019, so researchers will ramp up their efforts to convey the importance of the project in hopes of a positive decision.

The SCJ Board of Directors deliberated for about 15 minutes on the final report. Outside experts evaluated the report from December 7to the 18th, and it was reported that they made around 50 corrections.

Keiko Takahashi, director of JAMSTEC’s Center for Earth Information Science and Technology, asked for clarification on certain phrasing. “So, the ILC is a scientifically important project, but it’s just that it needs more concrete details worked out like the budget. Is that correct?” Yasuhiro Iye, chair of the ILC Committee (and Director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) responded, “You’ll often find this in the field of particle physics. If you disregard a number of conditions, then yes, it is an important project.”

The previous draft released in November had stated that consensus on the ILC had not been reached in the particle physics community, but they corrected that to state that consensus had in fact been reached. Some of the stronger wording, like “it is dangerous to make a decision without a clear outlook” was revised to “uncertainties are cause for concern.”

One of the researchers who called for revisions to factual mistakes in the draft was specially-appointed Professor Satoru Yamashita of the International Center for Elementary Particle Physics of the University of Tokyo. He observed the Board of Directors meeting in a separate room. “It is very good news that they recognized the scientific importance of the ILC. They have also seen how important it was that the scientific community reached consensus, and how vital an international hub of science would be (for Japan.)”

Professor Sachio Komamiya of Tokyo University responded, “The most important thing was that they recognized the scientific importance of the ILC. We on the researcher side, with some political maneuvering, can fix the issues raised in the report.”

Including previous versions of the project, debate on the ILC has been ongoing since 1991. We have finally reached the last stage of a government decision. Prof. Yamashita said, “It is vital that society learns about the ILC project, so we will do our utmost from this stage on. I would like us to spread the word of the ILC around Japan and the rest of the world to get wide-ranging support.”