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Federation of Diet Members resolves to promote the ILC in Japan

| 8 July 2024

On March 21, a general meeting of the Federation of Diet Members for the ILC took place at the Second House of Representatives of the House of Representatives. The meeting was attended by approximately 50 participants, including members of the Diet, relevant ministries and agencies, business representatives, and researchers. During the meeting, comprehensive reports were presented regarding the progress of the ILC project and the initiatives undertaken by various pertinent organizations. Subsequently, stakeholders engaged in a dialogue aimed at deliberating on the future course of action for the ILC project.

The general meeting was led by Hon. Takashi Fujiwara, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation. “In his opening remarks, Hon. Ryu Shionoya, Chair of the Federation, said, ‘I recognise that one of the major problems of the ILC project is the lack of a host for the ILC, and this is the first thing we must consider. We must establish a collaborative system involving all the parties,” he demanded of the participants.

At the beginning of the session, researchers presented reports. First, then-KEK Director General Masanori Yamauchi delivered a report on the “Current Status of the ILC Project,” explaining the ILC and global trends in accelerator projects. He also highlighted that the research on the Higgs boson, discovered in 2012, stands as the most crucial advancement in particle physics. Additionally, scientists worldwide are advocating for the establishment of a “Higgs Factory,” an accelerator designed to generate a significant quantity of Higgs bosons for in-depth study. He also emphasised two advantages of building the ILC in Japan: Japan will become a centre of cutting-edge science, and it will be a source of innovation through the application of accelerator technology. Masaya Ishino, the recently appointed spokesperson for ILC Japan, offered an overview of the current promotional structure, while also providing guidance for researchers on the path forward. ILC Japan is an organisation that promotes ILC activities in Japan on behalf of the research community. Ishino mentioned that “the ILC is an experimental facility with numerous excellent features for advancing next-generation particle research.” He also expressed his hopes to “increase the involvement of more researchers in the ILC and to encourage research and development within a global framework.”

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) and the Cabinet Office have both presented their reports.

In her report, Mizue Shiomi, Director of the Research Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), explained the status of ILC-related budgetary measures and the status of requests and exchanges of views with relevant national governments and others. A significant amount was allocated for research and development related to the ILC. 700 million yen earmarked for “the development of key elemental technologies to improve the performance of future accelerators.” Also, sustained backing will be provided for the development of fundamental technologies that will contribute to future high-performance accelerators based on the current situation where the ILC Technology Network (ITN), a framework for promoting the development of critical ILC technologies through international collaboration, is being established. Additionally, MEXT is committed to fostering the growth of young researchers who are poised to assume leadership roles in the future. In addition, an operating grant of 350 million yen has been provided to KEK, an increase of 80 million yen compared to the previous year.

She mentioned that there have been six continuous opinion exchanges with relevant countries since 2021. Additionally, she reported that during an opinion exchange with the Director of the Science Bureau of the US Department of Energy last December, they received a positive response, indicating that the US would consider ways to participate in the ITN at the earliest possible date. Shiomi concluded by stating that MEXT would continue collaborating with the research community to advance the initiative steadily.

Deputy Director-General Naoyuki Fujiyoshi, from the Secretariat for the Promotion of Science, Technology, and Innovation at the Cabinet Office, reported the formation and purpose of the Liaison Group on Future High-Performance Accelerators. The liaison group is led by the Deputy Director-General in charge of the Secretariat for Science, Technology, and Innovation of the Cabinet Office, as well as the Research Promotion Bureau of the MEXT. Its objective is to exchange information regarding upcoming high-performance accelerators, including the ILC. There have been two meetings in February and March this year. During these meetings, information was shared about various aspects of the ILC situation. This included details about the P5 report, which was created in December and outlines priorities for US particle physics projects, as well as MEXT’s requested activities and exchanges of views with the relevant countries. Fujiyoshi stated that the Cabinet Office would enhance the system by allowing the participation of observers as necessary in the future.

Shoji Asai, Director of the International Research Centre for Particle Physics (ICEPP) at the University of Tokyo (then, now Director of KEK), presented the challenges of realizing the ILC as a global project. Conventional large accelerator programs have typically been carried out through international cooperation, with most of the construction and operation costs being covered by a single host institute or country. 

This methodology, referred to as ‘international projects,’ serves to streamline decision-making processes while concurrently imposing a substantial burden on the host, who bears responsibility for any delays and accidents. Asai explained that there is a growing international recognition that future large-scale research projects, such as ILC, should be realised as “global projects,” where decision-making, costs, and risks are shared among partner countries. He reported that, as there is no precedent for global projects in accelerator experiments, they are addressing issues from the researchers’ perspective and compiling a ‘script’ for realisation. He referred to earlier projects such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). In doing so, he mentioned that he plans to invite administrative officials of each country to a future briefing session to reflect the views of their administrative bodies.

During the exchange of views, questions were raised about the current status of China’s accelerator program, and opinions were expressed calling for effective methods of publicizing the project, including catchphrases.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Takeo Kawamura, former Chairman of the Federation. He mentioned, “The realization of the ILC is one of my unfinished tasks. I am pleased to learn that it is making steady progress. As Japan’s first leadership project, I hope to see the ILC come to fruition,” and conveyed his optimism for the future advancement of the initiative.

The meeting concluded with adopting the ‘Recommendations on the Progress of the International Linear Collider Project’. Click here for the full text of the recommendation.

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