EFDA Newsletter (E.N.): Your first name – Yasuo – means “peaceful man”. This seems to be a very good precondition to lead a team of different international scientists and engineers!

Yasuo Shimomura (Y.S.): I’m sure that the cooperation within our ITER project is peaceful and nice! After joining it I recognized that the difference between the nationalities is much smaller than the difference between the personal characters. But to give an example for national differences: the traditional Japanese are probably more calm and think more before they start to express their opinion. This is sometimes helpful, but sometimes it’s better to discuss the items amongst all people, even at a very preliminary stage. Other nationals are thinking while talking. These kind of people stimulate the discussion very easily, but sometimes they just cause confusion. So you have always advantages and disadvantages, but I think exactly this fact creates very fruitful working conditions.

E.N.: You had an impressive series of leading positions starting as leader of the first divertor tokamak in the world, the JFT-2a/DIVA at JAERI (Japan). How do you see your new position as ITER project leader?

Dr. Yasuo Shimomura became Interim Project Leader of the ITER International team in July 2003 and moved to Garching (Germany). He succeeded Dr. Robert Aymar who was elected Director-General at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva (Switzerland).

You can find a short CV of Dr. Shimomura on the EFDA and ITER WEB!



Y.S.: The first time I was involved in ITER was at the end of 1986, when its objectives and activities were defined. In 1992 I was deputy to the ITER Director, first with Dr. Rebut and then with Dr. Aymar. I have been working for many years on position two, so the work of the ITER project leader is not very new to me. But at the same time, the time scale is very short as we are entering the construction phase, so my position is under much more pressure. The technical side of ITER construction preparation is clear. But in order to start construction quickly and smoothly it is important to set up a construction team and this is difficult without having the Director-General nominated. A team built up by another person will not meet his requirements. We also will have to upgrade new tools like a document control and the CAD system before the ITER site is selected.

E.N.: As a Japanese native, deep in your heart you surely support Rokkasho as the ITER site?

Y.S.: Actually I don’t doubt that all Japanese want ITER as a very important scientific centre in their territory, but for me personally it is not so important where ITER will be built. By using information technology, scientists can use ITER from anywhere in the world. For fusion development the site itself is not important.

E.N.: Meanwhile the number of ITER partners has increased to 7. Do you see any problems, which could arise from that fact?

Y.S.: The components of the machine will be fabricated by different partners. If the partners don’t understand that the sharing among them should be technically reasonable and simple, we have a high risk of having a delay in construction or to have an unreliable machine. But except for this point I see much more positive points. If you look at Europe or Japan or the US, all the scientists and engineers are getting old. We actually have few young persons in this research area. But in Korea or in China we have excellent and very active groups of young people. This will help ITER a lot. So, during the ITER operation I think mostly people from the new Parties will contribute highly to develop the basis for a future fusion power plant.

E.N.: 21 years ago you already spent some time in Garching to work on the ASDEX machine at the Association-Euratom IPP. What do you like best in Germany?

Y.S.: My wife, my three sons and I enjoy hiking in the mountains and I like the excellent German public transportation system, as driving myself means, to me, wasting my time. And of course I like very much *Schweinshaxn and beer!

Interview: D. Lutz-Lanzinger

*Bavarian expression for “knuckle of pork”