The Office of ILC Promotion of Iwate Prefecture to be upgraded from Office to Bureau, doubling its work force and strengthening preparations going forward

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (June 3rd edition). Read the original here.

Plans are in the works to upgrade the Office of ILC Promotion plans to the status of Bureau*. The plans are to upgrade the office this fiscal year, and double its workforce from the 13 staff it has currently. This will boost their preparations for the ILC project as the national government moves to make a decision whether or not to host the project.

* The Office of ILC Promotion is currently within the Department of Policy and Regional Affairs, and when it is upgraded to Bureau status it will be the same level as the aforementioned “Department”. The prefectural government is divided into departments/bureaus, which are further divided into offices and divisions.

The Office of ILC Promotion was split off from another office in April of this year, becoming an office completely focused on the ILC. The head of office is at the rank of “Chair”, which is equal to the head of a department. After becoming independent from the Department of Policy and Regional Affairs, it will have the power to receive more budget and staff.

The prefectural government will formally make the suggestion at the June meeting of the Prefectural Assembly. This is the first new department-level organization created since the 2017 fiscal year, when the Department of Culture and Sports was formed.

The leading candidate site for the ILC is in the Kitakami mountains the stretch across Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. The prefectural government has conducted geological surveys to prove the superiority of the site, as well as prepare the area for receiving an influx of around 10,000 scientists and their families.

At the March meeting of the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) stated that they had an interest in the ILC for the first time; however, they were not ready to voice an intention to host the project. The national government’s decision will be largely determined by how international talks go regarding how to divvy up the immense costs of the project.