Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Japan launches 'Super Cool Biz' to save energy

TOKYO – The Japanese government wants the country's suit-loving salarymen to be bold this summer. Ditch the stuffy jacket and tie. And for the good of a country facing a power crunch, go light and casual.

Japan's "Super Cool Biz" campaign kicked off Wednesday 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. The loss of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was cripped by the March 11 tsunami, means electricity could be in short supply during especially hot days.

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 (82 degrees Fahrenheit).

The idea isn't new. "Cool Biz" was introduced in 2005 by the environment minister at the time, Yuriko Koike. The campaign was part of 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," Koike said at the fashion show held at a Tokyo department store. "But this is now the sixth year, and people have grown accustomed to it."


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