Live from Japan

A chat with Masataka Miya of the Iwate Government

| 22 January 2015

Masataka Miya, director of ILC Promotion for Iwate, Japan, talks about the prefecture’s plans for the ILC.

Things are moving forward in the year 2015 – technical planning for the ILC is proceeding, and the Japanese national government is preparing to make a decision whether or not to host the project. But what about Iwate, the region home to the Kitakami candidate site? What are their plans for 2015? Masataka Miya, director of ILC Promotion for Iwate, kindly agreed to sit down and talk about Iwate’s strategy for the next year.

Iwate is a lot more rural than the international cities of Tokyo or Osaka. What is the government doing to prepare for a possible influx of foreign residents? “We are making an online guide for living in the area, and there are deliberations at the prefectural and municipal level on changes to be made to the education and health care system,” said Miya.  “We are also jointly researching with Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) on what kind of human resources we need and how to train those human resources.” Another ILC link: IPU also has the honour of welcoming new president Atsuto Suzuki, director general of KEK!

The Iwate government is also interested in creating an international school. There’s no official plan for a school yet, but the office is gathering as much information as they can. Iwate governor Takuya Tasso even visited the International School of Geneva last autumn. There are many options to consider, and the prefectural government may not be the entity creating the school, but “we are gathering information so we can start concrete deliberations in the future,” Miya said.

How will the ILC fit in Iwate’s society? “Kitakami’s combination of gentle hills, rice fields, and small villages are called satoyama in Japanese, or hilly heartland. We want to develop a community surrounding the ILC that takes into account the satoyama’s history and culture. It should strive for harmony with nature and protect the Kitakami site’s natural beauty, and it must make use of its existing resources. We will certainly need apartment complexes for researchers, but we’re also considering how to integrate those with already-existing towns, and renovating older Japanese homes for use by the researchers.”

The vision in general is the creation of an “international science and technology research zone.” Maybe someday we’ll even be looking at a dedicated city of science, where cutting-edge research and Japanese culture collide just like the ILC’s electrons and positions. The result? A truly international Iwate.

“Iwate Prefecture welcomes the ILC. We’ll be making Iwate a welcoming and comfortable living environment for the researchers.” The ILC would also become a driving force in the reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake – some of coastal cities devastated by the tsunami are only around 30 minutes away from the site by car. The economic boost from construction, boom in local employment, and increased international exchange will be some of the many wonderful things helping out the region, but in the end, the hope is that the ILC will be a source of new hopes and dreams for the children of Iwate.


Links to English-language Iwate Resources

One of Tohoku’s 5 Great Snow Festivals, the Iwate Snow Festival held at Koiwai Farm. Image: Iwate Tourism Association

  • Rock On Iwate
    Please subscribe to the Iwate government’s Facebook page for daily updates on Iwate culture, sightseeing, and other interesting tidbits.
  • Iwate Prefecture’s English Resources
    We’re working on making this resource easy-to-use and thorough. We will expand into more languages in the future!
  • The ILC Support Committee
    This group of foreign residents of Iwate are providing their unique voice in building a more multicultural Iwate.
  • Oshu City’s ILC Promotion Division
    Oshu is in the northern half of the Kitakami site, and is home to Maesawa beef, cast-iron goods, and the National Astronomical Observatory. | See also Oshu city’s Facebook
  • Ichinoseki City’s ILC Page
    Ichinoseki is in the southern half of the Kitakami site, and is home to a treasure trove of sightseeing and good food.
  • Oshu For You
    ISC members star in videos showcasing some of the many charms of the Oshu area.

About the author

Amanda Wayama is the International Communications Officer for the Iwate Prefectural Government, splitting her time between public relations and ILC work. She’s been in Japan for six years, five of which were spent in Iwate, and she’s just about used to the cold Iwate winters. She likes spending her free time knitting (again, cold winters) and sampling craft beer from the region. Newly married to a lifelong Iwatean, Amanda is looking forward to spending her life in this beautiful prefecture.


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