The Japanese government expresses interest in ILC

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (March 8th edition). Read the original here.

Deliberations on the ILC project will continue in Japan. Scientists were relieved to see that the Japanese national government has finally stated an interest in the project, after being reticent for so long. However, there was also frustration: “there is not much time left” as Europe heads into planning for its next particle physics strategy (2020-2024).

The International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA) held a briefing that was attended by many members of the press. Tatsuya Nakada, Chair of the Linear Collider Board, commented at the beginning of the briefing that he was taking the news positively: “The Japanese government shared with us for the first time its position on the ILC.”

The Science Council of Japan had been tasked by MEXT to deliberate on the ILC, and in December 2018, they recognized that the project had scientific merit, but were concerned that there was no clear mechanism for sharing the immense cost. They answered that they could not yet support the ILC at this time. Therefore, there were scientists who were worried that the government would not give a positive answer on March 7th.

However, Prof. Satoru Yamashita (specially-appointed professor at the International Center for Elementary Particle Physics of the University of Tokyo) said, “The Japanese government [MEXT] said for the first time that it has an interest in the project, and that it is working with other ministries in the government. The impact of that is huge. This is a step forward within the government’s process.”

However, researchers had hoped for some sort of declaration on whether or not Japan would host the project. ICFA Chair Geoffrey Taylor said, “There was disappointment from our members. This could cause a delay to the schedule going forward.”

Technologically-speaking, the ILC is just about ready to be built. However, there are other large-scale accelerator projects being pushed forth around the world, and Professor Hitoshi Murayama of UC Berkeley urged caution. “(Europe has supported the ILC being built in Japan but) I’m not sure how they will react now that the deliberation period for the ILC has been stretched even further.”