Recently the Linear Collider Collaboration (LCC) Directorate visited the proposed location of the International Linear Collider in the Kitakami mountains located in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, north of Sendai city, Japan. LCC members have visited the candidate site several times already, and the purpose of this visit was to evaluate the conditions of transportation of heavy equipment from a major port to the collision point. We also wished to strengthen mutual understanding with local governments and industries as well as universities.
We first visited the closest port to the interaction point. Some parts for detector and machine will arrive in Japan by ship, so a working port and appropriate roads between port and interaction point are essential. Kesennuma Port was devastated by the 2011 tsunami with considerable loss of life. Extensive rebuilding of infrastructure is still in progress. The port is mainly for the fishing fleet but there are some deep water berths that can service larger vessels. The port should be good for large items but has no facilities for handling containers.
We travelled the 30 kilometres from the port to the designated interaction point to evaluate the feasibility of transporting the largest objects, in particular the solenoid magnets for the detectors. No serious obstacles were encountered although a number of bridges will need temporary reinforcement for the heavier loads. The new location of the interaction point will allow a vertical shaft to ease detector installation.
In the evening we met with Tatsuya Tasso, the Governor of Iwate prefecture, and Osamu Katsube, the mayor of Ichinoseki city, Masaki Ozawa, the mayor of Oshu city, and Shigeru Sugawara, the mayor of Kesennuma city, as well as local advocate groups for the ILC. Discussions with all local and regional officials were very productive. They are very keen and enthusiastic about hosting the ILC.
The next day we met with officials of Tohoku University in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. After a welcome by the President Sadayoshi Satomi, we met with the Tohoku University Council for the Promotion of the ILC. We received reports of the considerable work that is going on in support of the ILC, including geological surveys, ground vibration studies, transportation and town planning. After that we paid a courtesy visit to Yoshihiro Murai, the Governor of Miyagi Prefecture, and Yukimoto Ito, the Vice Mayor of Sendai city, and attended a meeting of the Tohoku Economic Federation followed by a meeting of the town planning working group which is studying campus design.
The following day we relocated to Tokyo for meetings with Diet Members and officials from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). This is now a very critical time for the ILC. Interim reports of the two Working Groups, one on the scientific case and the other on the technical design and cost, are expected in April. The findings of these Working Groups will be critical input into the Japanese Government in making the decision on whether or not it wants to host the ILC.