The government has decided to solicit construction in Japan of the International Linear Collider (ILC), a next-generation particle accelerator that will allow physicists to explore rudimentary questions about the universe, the Nikkei said.
The ILC will complement the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson - a particle understood to impart mass, the business daily said.
The project is seen to measure up to the International Space Station and the ITER nuclear fusion project. Building the ILC in Japan would mark the first time that the country plays the central role in a major international research project, the Nikkei said.
The project was set in motion when an international team of scientists and others drafted a report on the engineering design of the ILC on Wednesday, the paper said.
Construction costs are estimated to total 830 billion yen ($8.67 billion) and the project is expected to generate 530,000 jobs, the Nikkei said.
According to the Japan Productivity Center, the project is expected to yield an economic impact of around 45 trillion yen ($470.24 billion) over 30 years, the paper reported.
The Cabinet Office plans to discuss the matter at a meeting of experts on Friday. A mountainous region in Iwate Prefecture and another straddling Fukuoka and Saga prefectures are seen as prospective construction sites for the collider, which is to be built in a tunnel about 30km long, the paper said.
The government hope to select a candidate site and officially announce its intention to host the ILC around next month, according to the Nikkei.
No national government has volunteered to host the project so far. Japan has the backing of many scientists from around the world, the daily said.
With the construction site expected to be decided around 2015, Japan will talk to other participants in the ILC project including the United States, Europe, China and Russia, the Nikkei said.
Construction is expected to take around a decade, with experiments beginning around 2030. If the collider is built in Japan then the country is expected to shoulder about half of the construction costs, so the pricey project could prove contentious at home, according to the Nikkei.
($1 = 95.6950 Japanese yen)
(Reporting By Lehar Maan in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)