The government began the annual Cool Biz campaign on Tuesday to promote workplace energy conservation by dressing more casually.
After the 10-day holiday period through Monday to celebrate Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne and commemorate the era change from Heisei to Reiwa, many employees at ministries and agencies arrived without ties or wearing kariyushi traditional shirts from Okinawa.
The campaign is aimed at combating global warming. Office workers are encouraged to wear light clothes while the air conditioning is set at 28 degrees to reduce electricity use.
Cool Biz runs until the end of September. Many central government officials work without jackets and ties, instead wearing polo shirts, sneakers and even Hawaiian aloha shirts.
The Environment Ministry introduced the initiative in 2005 and is likewise promoting a Cool Share campaign aimed at getting people together in air-conditioned common spaces, including commercial facilities and cafes. It is also encouraging people to cultivate “green curtains” by growing shade-producing plants.
“Although it is not compulsory, if we reduce the use of air conditioning we will be able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions,” said Shinji Isobe, head of the Environment Ministry’s lifestyle policy office, who came to work without wearing a tie.
Cool Biz has caught on, he said, and he hopes the success will continue.
Private companies such as supermarkets and department stores have joined the initiative, with some planning to offer new fashion styles to help people spend the summer more comfortably.
Temperatures of 40 or higher were recorded in wide areas of Japan last summer. The ministry is calling on companies to allow workers to continue to dress lightly on warm days in October after the official end of the Cool Biz campaign.