On 1 July 2014 Hiroshi Shirai took over from Shinichi Ishida as project leader of the Satellite Tokamak Programme project in Japan—JT-60SA.
As a project conducted under the Broader Approach Agreement between Europe and Japan, the Satellite Tokamak Programme is upgrading the JT-60U tokamak in Naka, Japan to the advanced superconducting tokamak JT-60SA, re-employing the site buildings, auxiliaries, neutral beams, and some power supplies to support the exploitation of ITER and to promote research and development towards the next-stage device, DEMO.
Hiroshi Shirai was the group leader of the ITER Project Promotion Group in the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) Tokyo office from 2007 to March 2014. In 2012 and 2013 he was the chairman of the ITER Council Preparatory Working Group (CPWG) and also took on the role of Broader Approach Steering Committee Secretariat from June 2007 to October 2011.
Trained as a theoretical plasma physicist, he has been away from Naka for more than ten years. 'Some aspects of R&D activities have changed significantly during this period: JT-60 was shut down and dismantled, and then the JT-60SA project started up quickly and is now in the assembly phase. I will have to catch up with the ongoing activities here in a short time. Thanks to the assistance of the Project Team members I am accommodating myself to the new work environment. Coordinating to keep the schedule of this project is quite a demanding task, but the Project Team and I are dedicated to fulfilling our responsibilities.'
Shinichi Ishida, JT-60SA project leader since 2007, recalled on his departure the problems of the early years "The project had developed significant problems in terms of cost, schedule, performance and management due to very limited human resources. But we achieved a consensus that only a clear and common mission could hold an organization together as a single team and enable it to produce results." During his time in office the project placed almost all the procurement arrangements of JT-60SA. Mr Ishida will continue to support the project from his new role at the JAEA Naka site in coordination for the management of fusion R&D, including the ITER Project and Broader Approach activities.
For more information, please see the JT-60SA newsletter.