Suzuki’s Super-Cool Strategy: Short Pants

It’s going to be a sticky summer for Japan’s companies, in more ways than one.

The strain on reduced post-March 11 power supply, even as demand for air conditioning grows, means energy has to be saved, by hook or by crook. While some firms ponder night shifts, three-day weekends or extended summer holidays, Suzuki Motor Corp.’s 81-year-old chief executive, Osamu Suzuki, has a radical proposal of his own: Not only no-tie, as per Japan’s usual ‘cool biz’ summer energy-saving campaign, but also no suit. Maybe not even long pants.

“We should have an attire revolution,” Mr. Suzuki said at a news conference this week, when asked about how his company will deal with power shortages expected this summer. The auto industry veteran didn’t say exactly what attire might work as the company bids to save on power-guzzling air conditioning. But he seems to know what outfit works for Japan’s hot/humid summer when he spends his spare time playing his favorite sport.

“When I go playing golf, I wear short pants and socks. It is very cool,” he said.

Short pants or not, for Suzuki Motor the need to conserve electricity will be no joke this summer, especially after Chubu Electric Power Co. decided to shut its Hamaoka nuclear power plant after pressure from the government following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Chubu Electric supplies power in the central Japan area where Suzuki Motor is based and runs all of its domestic two- and four-wheel vehicle factories.

“I wonder if ties and jackets (are needed) in a country like Japan which has a hot and humid climate,” in the summer, Mr. Suzuki said. His comments echo an idea suggested by Japan’s environment ministry Thursday on how to dress this summer. The ministry decided to allow its workers to dress casually in Hawaiian-style ‘aloha’ shirts and jeans under a new ‘Super Cool Biz’ summertime energy-conserving campaign. Workers will be able to even wear polo shirts, plain T-shirts, sneakers and sandals in order to cope with office temperatures set to 28 degrees Celsius amid concerns over power shortages, news agency Kyodo reported.

If Mr. Suzuki has his way, it could make for a cool summer sweetener for golf-loving staff at his company: They could wear golf gear to work, head straight for the fairways at the end of the (possibly shortened) work day, and still be home in reasonable time for a cooling beverage.