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Friday
May132011

Japanese Businessmen Trade Suits for Hawaiian Shirts, Sandals

BLOOMimage/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The Japanese are ditching traditional suits and ties for Hawaiian shirts and jeans at work.

In a country where the black suit and tie is virtually a workplace uniform, a call for no ties and short-sleeve shirts is cause for news. On Thursday, Japanese officials took the call a step further, green-lighting T-shirts, jeans and sandals in the office.

The look is dubbed "super cool biz;" it's the government's campaign slogan to promote energy conservation in light of the power shortage triggered by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The push for business casual comes as Japan braces for an uncomfortably hot summer where air conditioning will be in short supply.

When the earthquake and tsunami crippled Fukushima's reactors, they reduced energy supply to major cities like Tokyo. On Friday, the operator of another nuclear plant began shutting down two of its reactors -- a move made after questions were raised about earthquake safety. With those two plants now out of commission and more than half of Japan's nuclear plants halted for inspection, the country faces the prospect of a serious power shortage in the peak summer months.

Japan has promoted "cool biz" for years now. The program began six years ago to cut down on carbon emissions. Air conditioning at offices was turned down, inside temperatures set to a sweltering 82 degrees, and workers were given permission to suit up in short-sleeved button-ups and ditch the jackets. The campaign has helped slash millions of tons of greenhouse gases and they've helped retailers make millions selling "cool biz" wear, including underwear that helps soak up sweat. With looming power shortages, the government has added the "cool biz" wear to include jeans and sandals this year, though shorts and flip flops still won't be allowed.

Workers will begin revealing the new look at the beginning of June. There is not yet a separate dress code for women.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio