Japanese to dress more casually in office to help to cut electricity consumption

A more casual version of the annual government-led summer dress campaign began Wednesday at the Environment Ministry in Japan, encouraging its employees to dress more casually to help reduce the use of air conditioners. The new campaign comes as the Japanese government is calling on the private and public sectors to cut electricity consumption amid concerns about power shortages due to the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Under the Super Cool Biz campaign, ministry workers can wear polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans and sneakers in the workplace starting in June, more casual than the original no-tie, no-jacket Cool Biz dress code.

But it is still uncertain whether the more casual summer attire will take root among Japanese businessmen, who traditionally dress in gray suits. The original Cool Biz was proposed in 2005 by then Environment Minister Yuriko Koike as a way to help fight global warming. The Environment Ministry does not allow athletic wear, shorts, or flip flops under the new dress code. The ministry does not have a specific dress code for women.