Next step toward the ILC realization: MEXT expert panel publishes recommendations

KEK has been working on the realization of the International Linear Collider (ILC) in Japan, together with ILC-Japan, a community organization under the Japan Association of High Energy Physicists (JAHEP), the ILC International Development Team (IDT) established by the International Committee for Future Accelerator (ICFA), and other supporting organizations around the world. In June 2021, IDT published the “Proposal for the ILC Preparatory Laboratory (Pre-lab),” which proposes an outline of the organizational framework, an implementation model, work plan and required resources for the preparatory phase of the ILC. At the same time, KEK and JAHEP submitted a report to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) that summarizes progress on ILC activities over the past three years. In response to these developments, MEXT organized an expert panel in July 2021 for discussions to evaluate the progress of the ILC activities. On 14 February, the panel issued their recommendations, pointing out following five main points:

1. The panel recognizes the academic significance of particle physics and the importance of the research activities, including that of a Higgs factory, and understands the value of international collaborative research. However, the panel found that it is still premature to proceed into the ILC Pre-lab phase, which is coupled with an expression of interest to host the ILC by Japan as desired by the research community proposing the project.

2. Given the increasing strain in the financial situation of the related countries, the panel recommends the ILC proponents to reflect upon this fact and to reevaluate the plan. They should reexamine the approach towards a Higgs factory in a global manner taking into account the progress in the various studies such as the Future Circular Collider (FCC) and ILC.

3. The panel recommends that the development work in the key technological issues for the next-generation accelerator should be carried out by further strengthening the international collaboration among institutes and laboratories, shelving the question of hosting the ILC.

4. For realizing a very large project such as the ILC, cultivating a framework where the related countries can exchange information on their situations and discuss required steps would be important.

5. The panel recommends that the research community should continue efforts to expand the broad support from various stakeholders in Japan and abroad by building up trust and mutual understanding through bi-directional communication with the people concerned.

In light of the panel’s findings, KEK will make an effort to reexamine the path for realizing the ILC as a Higgs factory, taking into account the progress in various fronts including the FCC feasibility study. In this process, the interaction with the domestic and international research community as well as the opportunities in the exchange of information through ICFA will be crucial. Also, in collaboration with the IDT, KEK will propose a framework to ICFA to address some of the pressing accelerator R&D issues for the Pre-lab, where joint developments will be done by the participating laboratories on the selected subjects. KEK and the Japanese ILC community is committed to further advance important technological and engineering development in the accelerator area and to continue the effort for the realization of the ILC.

Furthermore, KEK, in collaboration with ILC-Japan, will establish a new organization that will centrally manage ILC communications activities. The new organization will strengthen activities to communicate the significance of the ILC to all parties involved, such as the general public, academia, or industry, focusing on communicating the importance to build an international laboratory for basic science, which will contribute greatly to the development of a new generation of scientists and advancement of knowledge, science and technology.

KEK endeavors to promote these activities for the realization of the ILC in the future, maintaining a relationship of trust with related organizations.

Related Sites

Summary of Discussions on Issues Related to the International Linear Collider (ILC) Project (written in Japanese)