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Multilayered and multifaceted; Tohoku ILC Movement Gaining Presence

It seems that more people are realizing that the International Linear Collider (ILC) will be a huge game changer for the entire region of Tohoku for generations to come.

Following up on our past article on the ILC, in recent months we had a series of opportunities to witness activities related to ILC promotion. What we learned and saw was the next Big Project, which is slowly but steadily gaining presence in Sendai, transcending the realms of science and governmental projects as diverse groups of people are discovering its potential in several different contexts.

On May 12, we saw a large conference dedicated to the ILC at Sendai’s city center.

With more than 120 attendees, this conference featured a keynote and a lively panel with 4 people who are, in variety of ways, involved in ILC promotion. Many important figures of Sendai’s local economy were present, and excitement was in the air for the possibility of the Big Project.

Ms. Anna Thomas, a participant from Oshu, emphasized that the event was an important factor, boosting people’s interest and providing updates about the ILC movements in Miyagi Prefecture for those who are in ILC promotion elsewhere.

Only a week later, on May 19, there was an international promotion at the reception for the G7 Financial Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting, Sendai.

The Tohoku ILC Promotion Council set up a booth in the foyer of the reception hall, featuring video, panels, and a model, which were all fully English compatible, and booth staff members, who also spoke English. It was quite a different atmosphere from the week before. There were lively discussions, curiosity, and a sense of excitement. Although the ILC was relatively unknown as a project to those who attended the G7 meeting, many people were well aware of CERN, and once they understood that it is the next generation accelerator, they all seemed to quickly comprehend its significance.

Ms. Eri Sasaki, who worked as an interpreter/booth attendant, told us that it was a revealing booth for her and that the ILC would have a huge positive impact on those who were working in an international context and the local international community alike.

In the following month, ILC promotion was back to focusing on the local economy but in a very different context from the previous month. This time, the size of the meeting was much smaller than the conference in May, and it was held in the intimate atmosphere of a Japanese restaurant. Nonetheless, the intensity and significance were no smaller than in May. This meeting was for young entrepreneurs, prominent business owners, local business support organizations, designers, and travel agency CEOs, among others. Very broad, complex topics, with the ILC at the center, were discussed in more casual yet intense terms. The focus was less on the scientific endeavors and more on regional regeneration and the significance of the ILC in Tohoku, which is still on its way to recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Another no-less-important perspective was provided in July at an event called Science Day, which aimed to provide firsthand experiences of cutting-edge science for families. There were many different booths there, and the ILC promotion team took part, proving to be surprisingly popular.

The kids and their parents listened eagerly to facilitators, as the contents and significance of the ILC, and science in general, were presented in simple, attractive ways, such as through slideshows, quizzes, experiments, and card games. The ILC, of course, was an unfamiliar name to the participants, yet it didn’t stop the children from asking a number of questions to the facilitators, driven by their curiosity.

Mr. Nathan Hill, who works in the ILC Promotion Division of Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture, stressed that such activity is of great importance for ILC promotion, since those children are the ones who will enjoy the most of its impact.

To be fair, the number of people who are aware of the ILC is still limited, especially compared to the scale of the impact it could have. Yet, through witnessing the aforementioned activities, we could see that the number certainly is increasing and the backgrounds of people who are aware of the ILC are rapidly diversifying, going well beyond realm of science. Younger generations, people in the creative industry, and people committed to regional revitalizations are starting to view the ILC as “their matter” rather than a strange offshoot project for scientists and government officials. If such current continues and amplifies, we will certainly see interesting developments for the ILC movement in Tohoku very soon.

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