SCJ to hold its Board of Directors meeting on December 19th – possible last stage for the ILC?

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (December 16th edition). Read the original here.

The Science Council of Japan (SCJ), which has been deliberating on the ILC project for the national government, will hold its last Board of Directors meeting for the year on December 19th. They are in the last stages of reviewing the report, with experts going over their findings before they hand them to the government. There is a possibility that a final form of the report will be ready for the December 19th meeting. In the draft of their report released in November, the SCJ called out numerous issues, including the international cost-sharing of the tremendous cost of the project. However, experts in the field of particle physicists urged them to amend the report, saying, “there were many factual errors.” Eyes are on the Board of Directors as the situation develops.

On December 7th, the SCJ began their review of the report written by their ILC committee. Afterwards, it will be passed to the Board of Directors, and after their approval, it will be given to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). However, as of December 14th, it is still not clear whether the ILC will be a topic for review at the next Board of Directors meeting.

In the November draft of the SCJ report, many noticed the line saying “there is no clear outlook” for sharing the tremendous costs internationally. Immediately afterwards, experts and scientists pointed out that there were many factual errors and a lack of understanding in the draft. They submitted a document with their opinions and further explanation.

Prof. Satoru Yamashita (specially-appointed professor at the International Center for Elementary Particle Physics of the University of Tokyo) said that, “When you look at the SCJ’s schedule for their review of their ILC report, it is possible that it could be ready (by the December 19th meeting). However, it may take a little bit more time if there ends up being a lot of corrections.”

The Linear Collider Board, an international group of scientists pushing forth the ILC, had been calling on the Japanese government to give its decision within the year. However, on December 7th, they postponed the deadline to March 7th, 2019. While this gives some extra time to Japan, which is still in the process of making the decision, Prof. Yamashita stressed that, “Originally, the deadline was the summer of 2018. The more time passes, the more faith is lost in Japan.”

While the report from the SCJ does carry some weight, politicians will focus on the national interest as they make a final decision on whether or not to host the ILC in Japan.

Hon. Shunichi Suzuki, vice-chair of the Federation of Diet Members for the ILC (House of Representatives, Iwate 2nd district), said, “We must demonstrate that we will start international negotiations. Even if we have until March, it’s better to make the decision as quickly as possible.”

Hon. Ryu Shionoya, secretary of the FDMILC (House of Representatives, Shizuoka 8th district, said they were on the last leg of the journey. “I hope we can progress in our discussions by year-end to gain more supporters of the ILC within the Cabinet.”