JAPAN - As temperatures soar across Japan, the government yesterday kicked off a "Super Cool Biz" campaign to get workers to dress casually so that thermostats can be set at an energy-saving, environment-friendly 28 deg C.
Corporate and government workers are encouraged to shed jackets, ties and business shoes for polo shirts, chino pants, sneakers and even Hawaiian shirts. The campaign came just as Japanese employees started their first day of work in summer amid a heatwave, with temperatures reaching above 30 deg C across the country, with some cities hitting more than 34 deg C.
The meteorological agency yesterday urged the people to drink more water and take precautions against heatstroke, which claimed the lives of three people over the weekend and landed hundreds more in hospital.
Super Cool Biz, which runs during the hottest months of June to September, started in the aftermath of an energy crunch in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima nuclear power plant and led to the shutdown of several other plants amid safety fears.
It is an extreme version of the Cool Biz campaign begun 10 years ago by the Environment Ministry to allow government workers to ditch ties and jackets. It still runs, but only in May and October and with a stricter dress code.
The Environment Ministry is also calling for firms to start the workday earlier, when temperatures are cooler and to get their workers to take their annual leave during this period.
Office worker Mitsuru Shinozaki remembers a time when companies were considered enlightened if they allowed their workers to wear a suit without a tie in the hottest month of August.