Change at the helm in Rokkasho

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Change at the helm in Rokkasho

Robert Arnoux

''It was a very intense experience, both professionally and personally,'' says Pascal, whose term as IFMIF-EVEDA project leader has now come to an end (Click to view larger version...)
''It was a very intense experience, both professionally and personally,'' says Pascal, whose term as IFMIF-EVEDA project leader has now come to an end
Four years ago, Pascal Garin—who had managed the European ITER Site Studies from 2001 to 2005 and was later appointed deputy director of Agence Iter France (2005—2006)—left Cadarache to take up his new position in Rokkasho, Japan. His task was to lead the Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities of the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF-EVEDA), part of the Broader Approach agreement between Japan and Europe.

"It was a very intense experience, both professionally and personally," says Pascal, whose term as IFMIF-EVEDA project leader has now come to an end. Starting "from scratch," the IFMIF team accomplished a lot in a short time: Procurement Arrangements were launched, buildings and prototypes were built or are presently under construction, experiments were initiated, and strong momentum was generated.

Of the four years spent in northern Japan, Pascal says they were "the best in his life." Leading a team in a Japanese context, he discovered, was a "completely different experience. I had to adapt to new cultural and managerial references; even body language was foreign and had to be deciphered... It was difficult and at the same time profoundly enriching."

Pascal says he came back "changed." What he calls "the fateful 11 March" was a turning point in his perception of the country and its people. "Nothing impressed me more than the strong and noble behaviour of the Japanese in these terrible circumstances."

Hiroshi Matsumoto is taking the helm for the interim period. He's a familiar figure to ITER staff, as he headed the Office of the ITER Director-General from 2007 to September 2010. (Click to view larger version...)
Hiroshi Matsumoto is taking the helm for the interim period. He's a familiar figure to ITER staff, as he headed the Office of the ITER Director-General from 2007 to September 2010.
A fusion veteran who began his career in the industry as a gyrotron developer and later joined the Tore Supra project in Cadarache, Pascal will continue to be part of the great adventure. "I am back at CEA; I will keep contributing to the fusion program here. ITER, of course, is a project I feel very close to."

Back in Rokkasho, a familiar figure to all ITER staffers is taking the helm for an interim period. Hiroshi Matsumoto, who headed the Office of the ITER Director-General (ODG) from 2007 to September 2010, sees his present mission as "reorganizing the IFMIF project team so that we can seamlessly work with home teams in Japan and Europe and truly form one integrated team—one big family."

An experimental plasma physicist during the first phase of his professional career, Hiroshi had to develop different skills when he joined the ITER Organization as Head of ODG. "At ITER," he recalls, "I used to see myself as a kind of "butler"—the person who solves the organizational problems that nobody really wants to take care of. In that context, I did learn a lot. So now, it is time for me to put into practice at IFMIF the lessons I learned when I was at ITER."


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