Japanese Workers Told To Dump Business Suits

Japanese workers have been told to swap starched suits for flimsy summer apparel so that offices can turn off their air conditioning systems amid concern over power shortages post-Fukushima.

Known as Super Cool Biz, the radical dress code will be put in place in June in an effort to reduce electricity consumption by 15 percent and relieve pressure on the country’s electricity grid.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, electricity companies have dealt with increasing temperatures by scheduling power cuts in the north of the country and reopening coal and oil-fired power stations.

The new policy, introduced by the Ministry of Environment, will see offices kept at 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), with even the most senior employees encouraged to don polo shirts, plain T-shirts and even Aloha shirts, along with jeans, sneakers and sandals.

Sportswear, shorts and beach shoes will not be allowed, according to a draft dress guide leaked to the Japanese media.

The ministry, perhaps aware that the new casual dress code may be met with resistance by senior workers, plans to organize a fashion show highlighting Super Cool Biz styles.

However, when the new policy was announced by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his cabinet, only two officials — not including the prime minister — showed up in the new look summer outfits.