A panel of a group of scientists who want to invite the International Linear Collider to Japan have decided to promote the Kitakami area of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures as a candidate site. The particle accelerator will cost an estimated ¥830 billion, and the total including particle detection equipment and research will exceed ¥1 trillion.

Particle accelerators have helped expand the frontier of physics. But scientists and politicians who want Japan to host the ILC must present convincing reasons — including the expected economic, scientific, educational and social benefits — to the public and the government to justify the cost. At present the government and the Science Council of Japan are lukewarm about the idea.

The Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in the suburbs of Geneva is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It consists of a 27 km ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way. In 2012, the LHC helped discover Higgs boson particles. It is theorized that soon after the universe formed, Higgs boson particles filled space and clung to other weightless particles moving at the speed of light— an interaction thought to have made the latter acquire mass.