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Because of the power-supply shortages expected this summer, we are being asked to do two things: shift peak hours of electricity consumption in order to level off spikes during the day, and save energy as a whole to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming.

The Environment Ministry’s Super Cool Biz campaign is promoting both.

The most conspicuous promotion during the campaign is to adopt a new style of dress. However, I don’t think the number of people who change their dressing habits this summer will be significant unless they are ordered to do so, or unless companies make dress-code rule books for employees like the ones school districts put out for seasonal changes in children’s clothing.

Most people will tend to resist adopting a new style of dress at their workplaces. Those who are accustomed to wearing suits and ties for many years won’t be willing to wear T-shirts and jeans. And subordinates will not feel free to wear polo shirts if their bosses are wearing the same formal attire.

In many Japanese companies, wearing formal clothing is a kind of shared value and has defined group norms for a long time. It is not easy for workers to change this value as a result of spontaneous self-conscious power-saving efforts.

To spread the Super Cool Biz style of dress among people will require strong agents of change — in the form of leaders, guiding coalitions and assistance. This should include dress code guidelines from corporate human resources departments, senior management’s demonstrated commitment to go casual in front of employees, and advertisements from department stores, the media and the government campaign itself.

And I think the success of the campaign will depend on whether the agents of change continue to appeal to people and encourage an environment in which people feel free to adopt a new style of dress.

People must not grow tired of the necessity of adapting to the dress code announced at their workplaces.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

yoshihiro akabane

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