Workers Change Clothes to Save on Electricity

(TOKYO, JAPAN )

The Ministry of Environment kicked off its "Super Cool Biz" 2011 campaign on Wednesday (June 1) in an effort to curb electricity spending in Japan by dressing lightly in the office.

This summer, Japanese office workers will have a new summer wardrobe, reflecting "cool business".

The dress code will be less formal, with neckties not recommended and lighter clothes being promoted by the Japanese government.

"As we are lacking electricity, the Japanese government is asking for a 15% reduction in electricity consumption. This is not just about surviving this summer, but this is a big turning point for changing the way Japanese live and our lifestyle," said the Japanese Minister of Environment, Ryu Matsumoto.

Although some people were not convinced by the new plan.

"I think people should chose what they wear, because you can look sloppy," said 48-year-old housewife Yasuko Yokoyama.

But the "cool biz" plan to save energy during the Japan crisis still have plenty of support, even among the traditional older generation.

"I think it's a good thing. You can contribute to saving electricity," said retiree, Takashi Nakayama.

According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) they have secured enough electricity to meet the expected demand for this summer of 55 million kilowatts, but called for continued savings as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was still crippled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Electricity use rises in the summer months when temperatures can reach up to 40C (104F).

KDDI, one of the largest telecommunication companies in Japan, is implementing an electricity savings policy allowing employees to leave early and work from home beginning on June 27. The company already is cutting down on lighting needs and setting the thermostat to 28C (82.4F).

"Up until now, the Japanese had stereotypical work habits to work from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. And although we had this unfortunate incident, it did act as a catalyst to changing the stereotypical working habits of the Japanese, so I wish things to become as progressive as the Western countries, and we should enjoy leisure hours more," said KDDI Manager, Kou Iizawa.

KDDI aims to save 40% of electricity consumption this summer.


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