National

Male use of parasols gets government push in hot and humid Japan

JIJI

The Saitama Prefectural Government is encouraging men to use ultraviolet ray parasols to reduce the number of people falling sick because of the hot weather.

Male employees in the prefectural government who formed a group to promote the campaign have tweeted comments from male UV parasol users, held an experience session for visitors at a Saitama government event and use such parasols when they’re commuting.

“There are budgetary limits to increase tree shade, but we can spread portable ‘shade’ much sooner,” a Saitama official said.

The idea of getting men to use UV parasols was proposed at a meeting of the prefectural government’s environment department last summer. The promotion group was then formed with some 20 male staff from the department.

The main activity for the group members was to set an example by using UV parasols, but the range has expanded to include an experience session and Twitter posts. The number of members has increased to 100, thanks to the participation of officials from eight municipalities, including Tokorozawa and the city of Saitama.

A member said he was hesitant at first because he thought of parasols as being for women only, but now he’s happy for the portable shade.

Last year he used a UV parasol supplied by the Saitama government, but this year he purchased one for himself.

Department store sales of UV parasols are rising.

According to an employee at the Isetan Men’s Store in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, sales of UV parasols for men in June and July were double what they were a year ago.

Men in their 50s to 70s are the main purchasers, and many customers come with their partners, said the employee of Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd.

Some customers say they use UV parasols with their wives on holiday, according to the employee.

“Maybe there are still high hurdles for men to use UV parasols,” said Tomomi Anzai, a Saitama official. “But I want it to be natural for many people to use UV parasols as a countermeasure for heat.”