the June 7 article “Cool biz Fukuda goes past tieless”: The history of the necktie is a long and convoluted one. Some commentators suggest that its precursors hail from the Han Dynasty in China and Imperial Rome, where its function was to protect against the cold. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), it served to distinguish Croatian mercenaries in the form of the cravat. It was during the Industrial Revolution in England that it morphed into its present form.

It was essentially developed to suit cold climes. It was not an item of clothing indigenous to Japan. Although Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s bravery at endorsing the “cool biz” trend must be applauded, it is ultimately meaningless in a country where most men are either forced to wear a tie — or are too afraid of offending by “sticking out and getting nailed down.”

It is ironic that the most adamant proponents of the view that Japan fought World War II to free Asia from “white people” would feel naked without an essentially “white” clothing accessory. In Japan, it is the height of propriety to dress in suits and ties in sweltering weather. Unfortunately, global warming is not cognizant of such considerations. If cool biz is to work, it must be mandatory and enforced across the board.

timothy khaki