Workers asked to dress down

Japanese government wants public-sector workers to ditch jackets and ties in the summer in an effort to save electricity
||Last Updated: 08/04/2005

Public-sector workers in Japan have been asked to dress down in an effort to save the environment.

Between June 1 and Sept. 30, workers are being asked to leave their jackets and ties behind and show up at work in slightly more casual clothing, according to Japan’s Ministry of Environment.

Taking off the stifling business attire results in a two degrees Celsius reduction in the heat felt by the body, the ministry said. As a result, air conditioning can be set at 28 degrees Celsius, a move designed to save energy and help the country meet its greenhouse gas emission targets. Offices are typically cooled to about 25 degrees Celsius.

Support from the top

Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s Prime Minister, recently appeared in an advertisement wearing a half-sleeve shirt with no tie, according to the

Associated Press.

“If the ministers are wearing a tie, their subordinates would feel uneasy about not wearing a tie,” the ad read. “So the ministers should not wear a tie.”

The government’s endorsement of casual dress in the summer is expected to filter down to the private sector. If every office in the country followed suit, estimates put the energy savings at about 81 million gallons of oil.

Japan is struggling to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Japan is expected to reduce greenhouse emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012. In 2003, though, emissions were eight per cent higher than 1990.

Project ‘Cool Biz’

The Ministry of the Environment is supporting the campaign, known as “Cool Biz”, with a manual designed to help workers dress more casual.

It includes hints such as matching the colours of your belt and shoes, according to the AP report.

“We try to explain why just untying your necktie won’t do,” said Kentaro Doi, the ministry official in charge of the campaign. “We show how to achieve an acceptable business look without wearing a tie.”

But the campaign isn’t guaranteed to be a success. Similar campaigns in 1979 and 1994 were flops.

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