Remember INTOR? The INTernational TORus program, initiated by the Soviet Union, Euratom, Japan and the USA in 1978, was the first truly international attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of fusion energy.
The idea of INTOR was very close to that of ITER, remembers Masayoshi Sugihara. Without the human, scientific and technological experience acquired with INTOR, the ITER technical design would have been much more difficult to organize."
Sugihara, then a junior physicist at JAERI (Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute) had chosen fusion for "the excitement of fundamental plasma physics research" and for its significance in terms of energy potential. "I was a graduate student when we were hit by the first oil crisis. It was a turning point—at the time, Japan was importing 90% of its oil from the Middle East."
Following the 1985 Reagan-Gorbatchev summit in Geneva, INTOR was to give way to a broader and even more ambitious project: ITER was born and Sugihara, still at JAERI, joined the Conceptual Design Activities group, with regular work sessions in Garching and ended up living there for eight years during Engineering Design Activities with his family.
This situation though, presented him with an unexpected problem: there wasn't a decent aikido club in the area. "Aikido is essential to me. It is a way of communicating with others. It's much more than a mere sport—it's a philosophy of life, and for eight years, I had to interrupt my practice. By chance, I was very busy with my work and family..."
For Masayoshi Sugihara, a 5th dan aikidoka (the highest grade being 8th), one of the benefits of joining the IO last April was gaining access to the CEA-Cadarache Aikido club and to its 7th dan teacher—a former CEA research engineer who retired several years ago. "Aikido is about using the opponent's force to 'guide' an attack without opposing it. So, physical strength is not really an issue. You can be an aikidoka into very old age..."