Japan ditches suit to save energy
The Japanese government wants the country's suit-loving office staff to be bold this summer. Ditch the stuffy jacket and tie. And for the good of the country, go light and casual.
Japan's Super Cool Biz campaign kicked off with a government-sponsored fashion show featuring outfits appropriate for the office yet cool enough to endure the sweltering heat.
This summer may be especially brutal. Looming for Japan is a potential power crunch, the result of the March 11 tsunami crippling the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
To prevent blackouts, the government is asking companies and government offices to cut electricity usage by 15 percent. It wants companies to limit air conditioning and set room temperatures at a warm 28 degrees Celsius.
The idea isn't new. Cool Biz was introduced in 2005 by the environment minister at the time, Yuriko Koike. The campaign was part efforts to fight global warming.
But with Japan dealing with an ongoing nuclear crisis and the aftermath of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami, officials decided they needed to take Cool Biz one step further this year.
"When we started Cool Biz in 2005, people said it was undignified and sloppy," Ms Koike said at the fashion show. "But this is now the sixth year, and people have grown accustomed to it."
She urged the audience to challenge themselves to save energy in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
So what's different with Super Cool Biz? First, the dress code. Polo shirts, Hawaiian shirts and trainers are acceptable now under the environment ministry's relaxed guidelines. Jeans and sandals are OK too under certain circumstances.