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Pity the poor Japanese office worker slaving away in the 28-degree heat. This year’s Cool Biz program has swung into full gear just as summer temperatures and humidity hit their peaks. The voluntary program to have office workers dress lightly to accommodate the government standard 28 degrees sounds like good policy. However, when the temperature soars outside, many people inside swelter.

Introduced in 2005, Cool Biz was supposed to change the traditionally formal suit-and-tie Japan into a much more casual feeling. That relaxed look was appealing and the savings in air conditioning costs was considerable. However, standardized regulations are just that — standardized, and so cannot fit every workplace. In large Japanese cities, office spaces vary tremendously in layout, airflow and work-space comfort, so that 28 degrees on the thermostat is not always 28 degrees on the skin.

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