Japan Businessmen Encouraged to Wear Sandals & Hawaiian Shirts to Keep Cool, Save Energy

sandals photo
Image: Rob DiCaterino via flickr

Japan is no stranger to finding creative ways to keep cool, but the government's "Super Cool Biz" campaign might be the most surprising. Businessmen are being asked to wear Hawaiian shirts, t-shirts and sandals to work to help save electricity during what is expected to be a scorching summer—and while the country is continues to recover from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and copes with the resulting drop in electricity supply, especially near Tokyo and on hot days.The Wall Street Journal reports:

Tokyoites are bracing themselves for a scorching, sweat-filled summer, indoors and out. As the word setsuden, or save electricity, becomes a buzzword, government offices and many firms have pledged to keep the office thermostat at a steamy 28 degrees Celsius--82 degrees Fahrenheit--due to a government decree to cut electricity usage by 15% this summer thanks to its now-crippled nuclear-power plants.

The environment ministry partnered with the nation's largest clothing retailer Uniqlo to launch the campaign, complete with a fashion show, to encourage government employees to give up dark, heavyweight suits for lighter shirts and respectable-looking jeans, chinos, polo shirts, and sandals.

While the campaign makes some uncomfortable—WSJ quotes a transport ministry official, "I can imagine keeping a suit at my desk to change into when meeting people, but I can't imagine meeting guests in a T-shirt or a polo shirt"—it has inspired in others the exact mindset that is so badly needed in Japan and around the world, perhaps most desperately here in the U.S.

"I don't want to play down the initiative taken by a fellow government agency. This is a time of emergency. We need a completely new way of thinking," the WSJ story quotes a trade ministry official. "I don't think we can ride out the current [energy] crisis by continuing the same tired approach."

Women, however, are not included in the initiative. Apparently it was "more difficult" to decide what the guidelines for women should be.

More on Japan and energy consumption:
Japan's New Energy Policy Goes Cold on Nuclear
Keep Cool With a USB Powered Necktie Fan
How Much Will Japan's New Proposal To Reduce Emissions Cost?
Japanese Government Asks Water Suppliers To Keep Rain Out, Treat For Radionuclide Removal

Related Content on Treehugger.com