MEXT explains its view on the ILC to ICFA


From 7 to 8 March 2019, the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), the international body to facilitate international collaboration in the planning, construction and use of accelerators for high-energy physics, had its 83rd meeting held at the University of Tokyo. About 40 representatives from around the world gathered to discuss the current status and future prospects of high-energy physics.

LCB session

In the morning of the first day, in a session of the Linear Collider Board (LCB), with participation of the ICFA members, an official of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) explained Japan’s view in regard to the International Linear Collider (ILC). Mr. Keisuke Isogai, Director-General of MEXT’s Research, Promotion Bureau, handed a letter to Professor Tatsuya Nakada, Chair of LCB, stating that although the ministry has not yet reached the decision to issue a declaration for hosting the ILC, it will continue to discuss the ILC project with other governments with an interest in the project.

The executive summary of the MEXT presentation states as follows:

MEXT’s view in regard to the ILC project Executive Summary
March 7, 2019
Research Promotion Bureau, MEXT

○ Following the opinion of the SCJ, MEXT has not yet reached declaration for hosting the ILC in Japan at this moment. The ILC project requires further discussion in formal academic decision-making processes such as the SCJ Master Plan, where it has to be clarified whether the ILC project can gain understanding and support from the domestic academic community.

○ MEXT will pay close attention to the progress of the discussions at the European Strategy for Particle Physics Update.

○ The ILC project has certain scientific significance in particle physics particularly in the precision measurements of the Higgs boson, and also has possibility in the technological advancement and in its effect on the local community, although the SCJ pointed out some concerns with the ILC project. Therefore, considering the above points, MEXT will continue to discuss the ILC project with other governments while having an interest in the ILC project.

Back in 2012, Japanese ILC community submitted a petition to the Japanese government to host the ILC. MEXT examined and considered carefully the project from various aspects including scientific significance, cost and technical feasibility, and issues in human resources, by setting up the ILC Advisory Panel. Following the discussion of the Panel, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) submitted a report on the ILC to MEXT in December 2018. Taking into account those reports, MEXT scrutinised the environments around the ILC, which resulted in the letter to the LCB. This is the very first time that the Japanese government shows its interest directly to the world scientific community, which marked a very important milestone for the project.

On the night before the meeting, a welcome reception was held at a hotel in Tokyo, and members from the Federation of Diet Members for the ILC, Hon. Takeo Kawamura, Hon. Ryu Shionoya, Hon. Shunichi Suzuki, and Hon. Shintaro Ito attended.

Hon. Kawamura gave a guest speech at the reception, and explained the Federation of Diet members’ various activities toward the realisation of the ILC, including on-going political discussions between Japan and the United States since 2013, and additional political conversation with France and Germany that started in January 2018. “Now, we have come to the step to start to discuss actual items,” he said. In his speech, he pointed out the importance of the cost sharing model between international partners, proposing to properly divide the cost into those that should be borne by the host country, and those to be shared internationally. He also pointed out the importance to develop a model for international sharing, and asked the world-wide community of scientists for cooperation by providing technical information.Full text of Hon. Kawamura’s speech

press briefing

In the press briefing held in the evening of 7 March, Professor Nakada expressed his gratitude to the Japanese science community legislative bodies, executive bodies, industries and others who made lots of efforts to realise the ILC in Japan. “In particular, we are grateful to MEXT who sent a delegation today to explain the position of the Japanese government on the ILC,” he said.

Professor Geoffrey Taylor, Chair of ICFA, stressed that “having a Higgs factory is the number one idea in particle physics right now,” after the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012. To determine the properties of the Higgs boson, an intense and specific beam is needed to produce sufficient quantities of those particles, which the ILC is going to provide.

Professor Taylor said that the “scientific significance of the ILC has been made very clear,” and confirmed that ICFA will continue to promote the ILC project. “We have been very encouraged talking with Diet members and senior-level MEXT officials, which showed that the political and executive environment in Japan is evolving quite rapidly towards the ILC,” Taylor said. “We are also encouraged that there has been communication about the ILC across many ministries in Japan. We’re still very hopeful that in not too long a time we will end up with a positive response to hosting the ILC from Japan”, he said.

The SCJ report pointed out some issues yet to be solved, including several technical challenges and the international negotiation on cost-sharing. Masanori Yamauchi, Director General of KEK said in the press briefing: “We can show that we already have solutions for the technical challenges pointed out in the latest SCJ report, and we are going to start making a framework for international cost-sharing,” he said. KEK is going to explain its plan how to promote the ILC project in the coming months.

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