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This year’s “Cool Biz” casual attire campaign kicked off Thursday with men across Japan, from politicians to office employees, urged to leave their coats and ties at home during summer to help cut back on power consumption for air conditioning.

The four-month campaign, launched by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for the first time last year, aims to promote casual wear in the workplace and calls on both the private and public sectors to raise the temperature for air conditioning in offices to 28 to save energy in the summer months.

The 2005 campaign was well-received by the public and considered more successful than the government’s past efforts at promoting dressing down in 1979 to save energy during the second oil crisis.

A poll last August showed that nearly half of Japanese businessmen surveyed adopted the new dress code, while about a quarter still wore both coats and ties.

In addition to its green aims, the campaign also serves to boost consumer spending and stimulate the economy by encouraging purchases of casual attire.

Robust sales of clothing as a result of the “Cool Biz” campaign last summer were cited as one of the major factors that helped lift retail sales in 2005 to their first increase in nine years.

Textile and clothing manufacturers are prepared to go all-out this summer with the launch of new fabrics and designs, while department stores are poised to greet customers with “‘Cool Biz” corners with smart casual wear.

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