June 1st, 2012
07:26 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Salarimen, throw on your Hawaiian shirts: it’s that time of year again in Japan.  “Super Cool Biz,” the Ministry of Environment’s annual energy reduction campaign, officially launches Friday across the country.

To reduce electricity use in corporate workplaces, Super Cool Biz encourages office workers to eschew their usual black suits for lighter clothing, including Hawaiian shirts, polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans, and sandals.

The campaign has been an inadvertent boon to clothing retailers, who have not only increased their stock of these items, but also specially designed garments for the season.

Among them is lingerie manufacturer Triumph’s “Super Cool Bra.”  The bra’s cups are filled with a gel which, after being placed in the freezer for a few hours, will help keep the wearer’s body cool while remaining soft at the same time.

After being stung by reduced sales of suit jackets last summer, men’s clothiers have also produced new “Cool Biz” lines with lighter, more breathable fabrics.  Sanyo Shokai Ltd. is launching six new types of suit jackets that include technology to absorb sweat and block heat, according to the Mainichi Newspaper.  Renown Inc. has doubled its “Cool Biz” products to 119 items, including lighter versions of its Durban line of suit jackets and accessories like belts and neckties.

Textiles companies have also incorporated sportswear materials into business wear.  Teijin Ltd. is using polyester with pH control to reduce sweat odor.  Toray Industries Inc. is working with apparel makers to develop “Cool Avenue” shirts and pants using polyester and nylon cool to the touch, projecting sales of 50,000-60,000 items worth one billion yen in total.

Shares of menswear retailers, such as Konaka, Aoyama Trading Co. and Aoki Holding Inc. have steadily rose since the weather—and Cool Biz sales—began warming up in late April, according to The Nikkei Report.

Despite the relaxed dress code, there still are suggested standards to be upheld: T-shirts must be in solid colors, jeans smart-looking without tears, and undergarment-like tops such as camisoles and flip-flop sandals are banned.

The government is also advising that working hours be shifted earlier, and overtime be reduced.

Complete with a government-sponsored fashion show, Super Cool Biz was introduced last year to conserve energy during the hot summer months following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  It built upon “Cool Biz”, an annual campaign introduced in 2005, which urged office workers to forgo wearing ties and set air conditioner thermostats at 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Alongside Super Cool Biz and Cool Biz this year, the Ministry of Environment is also promoting “Cool Share”, which encourages people to share air conditioning units as much as possible.  Residents are advised to turn on air conditioning in only one room of their home and have all members of the household congregate there. Alternatively, they can switch off their home air conditioning units entirely and hang out in air-conditioned public venues instead.

Last year’s Super Cool Biz was considered a cool success, as the country avoided widespread brownouts and blackouts despite a reduced supply of nuclear energy.  This year will be a greater challenge, as Japan tries to stay cool without drawing on nuclear energy at all.  Pre-Fukushima, nuclear sources comprised 30% of the country’s energy consumption.

Super Cool Biz will run through September.

-CNN's Kyung Lah contributed to this post

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Filed under: Business


soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Peter

    I was in Tokyo for business last August and it was ridiculous how hot some buildings were. It might be "greener" to have less or no airconditioning but when people are sweating, uncomfortable, drowsy, etc. then they are not as productive. There is a reason why air-con is normally set nearer 22c – it keeps people awake and working!

    June 1, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  2. Amir

    I reckon people should not be sacrificed for green environment

    June 1, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  3. John

    Peter

    They had to cut down on electricity use because the earthquakes, as all nulcear plants are offline, everywhere, hence aircon had to go. This is a cilvilsed country, everyone will do their part and the suffering.

    More electric is targeted to the blood artery of the country the manufacturing sector. Do you think , it's for them to lose 40% capacity?

    June 1, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  4. Jojo

    John is right that electricity production was reduced to Tokyo due to the Fukushima plants being destroyed. Amir, people are part of the environment. To sacrifice the environment for the benefit of humans is selfish and self destructive. Balance is necessary

    June 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  5. Sweaty foreigner

    I live and work in Tokyo. My solution for the summer heat is to get out of Dodge and go to the U.S. west coast for six weeks in the summer. The hell with work.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  6. Egypt 4 ever

    Balance is necessary for the Nature.Global Warming due to different Emissions ,Carbon Dioxide , CFC`s,.. so all of us are in the same boat.people should seek a solution to reduce energy consumption.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Roy

    i live in Tokyo and towards summer it is inevitably getting to be torrid in Tokyo even now been quite muggy out despite the face that these models are quite breezy.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Rex

    yeah yeah...A/C whatever...
    H00TERS!!

    June 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  9. Chris

    We need an eco-friendly way to produce clothing... what good is it if the process of making clothing itself is not eco-friendly? Irony?

    June 2, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  10. Chris

    We need a way to produce eco-friendly clothing in an eco-friendly manner... Irony?

    June 2, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  11. Guest

    I was wondering if those bras had live fish in them,like the key chains do
    Maybe it would work better with sea monkeys.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  12. rewt

    Crank up every reactor including the damaged ones and pump the glowing water into the ocean. PROBLEM SOLVED

    June 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  13. bob

    a civilized society would not allow it's self to be held hostage by the environMENTALists. make sure the reactors are safe, bring them back on line and crank up the AC!

    June 4, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  14. Guest

    Yeah – thats excessive green. They are carrying lunch in their bras, no fridge needed

    June 4, 2012 at 2:40 am |
  15. allenwoll

    bob - The only SAFE nuclear reactors are COLD nuclear reactors, particularly in a region subject to earthquakes.

    You have a strange idea of a "civilized society" - It sounds like a sick society is what YOU want ! ! !

    June 4, 2012 at 2:57 am |
  16. Bob

    Having been in Tokyo last July and August I was amazed that street level shops often had their entire fronts open while running a/c. While cooling the people on the streets passing by. To me seems like a terrible waste of electricity.

    June 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Dave

    Flip flops - WOMEN - people are working, stop wearing shoes that flop around - have some consideration for others

    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  18. DANILLE

    ANY CHICS WHO IS BUTT WHITE WILL NEVER LOOK GOOD ON ANY BIKINI. SO PLEASE DO OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND MINGLE WITH NATURE SO YOUR BODY CAN GET A TAN

    June 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  19. opinionated c

    Dressing for success does not mean a suit and a tie but clothing that are appropiate for the career and the atsmosphere. Once employers dress done thier clothing thier level of education and techniques are still the same.

    June 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  20. opinionated c

    Dressing for success does not mean a suit and a tie but clothing that are appropiate for the career and the atsmosphere. Once employers dress down thier clothing thier level of education and techniques are still the same.

    June 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  21. Mike K.

    Wow not a single positive comment– congrats people.

    June 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  22. J_Koz

    Wow – what a great idea. Another major step towards saving the Tatas.

    June 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  23. ジャク

    これは、労働者はより生産性を向上させます。彼らは仕事に集中、そうでない彼らの衣服に。

    June 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  24. moribundman

    Do they have gel-filled, cooling underpants for guys? :-P

    June 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  25. chuck

    nice to see the workers get to wear more comfortable clothing. Wearing suits is stupid most of the time and does nothing to help working conditions.

    June 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  26. Melodykari78

    "To reduce electricity use in corporate workplaces, Super Cool Biz encourages office workers to eschew their usual black suits for lighter clothing, including Hawaiian shirts, polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans, and sandals."

    Women are not being encouraged to wear gel-filled bras to work.

    June 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  27. Co Pilot

    The people of a country and the government working together to make something work after a disaster of global proportions.... That sort of behavior doesn't belong in 'Merica, crank the A/C!!!! Yet we wonder why the world laughs at us.

    June 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  28. rfXNazemeSean

    Awesome article.. really loved ur site. This brings ur maturity. Keep going

    June 6, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  29. ZQCricvSelso

    I am quite about to do this step. This article got me thinking whether i should do it. Again. And thank you very much!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  30. Sandy

    I can settle both problems.... get naked!... no air, no clothes.... we'd all be happier!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  31. Smegma

    They should be looking at radiation proof clothing

    June 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  32. spudnik

    You will never seen so many men in dark business suits as the trains during rush hour around Tokyo. In the summer it must be torture. and yet in the winter, the young girls still have to wear the skirt to school w/ bare legs. i was freezing but they handle it

    June 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  33. Mark

    can't complain about that...

    June 8, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  34. Bill

    Yeah, the gals in the photo above would be very much welcomed in most offices and businesses here in thiose lovely outfits! Sundresses with no undies too, maybe too...saves on the laundry and hot-water bills ya' know! Gotta' think out of the box, so to speak and there's no limit to what could be accomplished by way of efficiencies!

    June 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  35. What

    Why does this seem like code talk to me?

    rfXNazemeSean

    Awesome article.. really loved ur site. This brings ur maturity. Keep going

    ZQCricvSelso

    I am quite about to do this step. This article got me thinking whether i should do it. Again. And thank you very much!

    June 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  36. veggieconquistadora

    People are acting like this is a new thing. Cool (and warm) biz have been around for a long time. I prefer Cool Biz to Warm Biz cause at least I'm not freezing to death. Now that I'm back in the US, I'm still rocking the Cool BIz cause my workplaces don't have air conditioning (I'm a teacher). It may be 90F in my room, but I make sure I wear breathable clothes and all is well. I make sure my students drink water, and I open the windows, shut off some lights, etc. People didn't even use to HAVE air conditioning... it's not comfortable, but as long as you're making sure everyone is hydrated, you will be okay.

    June 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  37. Andi

    Gee I wonder what our ancestors did back before electricity? There are tons and tons of people who go with out power clean water or food. The world is headed in the wrong direction when people care more about A\C than real problems, it truly scares me how naive, under educated, and selfish humans have become. What happens if all the power in the world was knocked out. Tons of people would die just because they could not handle it. That means no cars, no internet , no banks, no stores, life as we know it would completely change. We are all one race....HUMAN!!!!!! get real and stop being selfish. You wanna see waist and stupidity go to Las Vegas!!!!! Concrete jungle hot hot hot, yet every casino is freezing inside and all their doors are open so people walking by will feel it and go in to cool off. I don't know about you but my momma yelled at me "i didn't raise you in a barn close that door we're not paying to cool down the outside of the house". I bet we could have no national debt if we took the money Nevada makes in electricity bills for the casinos. If Hoover damn ever broke that town would be a ghost town cuz they wouldn't have the juice to run it and us Americans wouldn't go cuz it would be to hot or anyone else for that matter. Sick of pampered self indulgent lazy humans....lets get back to hard work, only get what you can afford, loving caring humans again!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA that's wishful thinking. Thank you South Dakotans for some of you still thriving and surviving and being humans who care about their neighbors and even tourists, don't get me wrong all the transplants have brought some very bad behavior and traits ,so its making it way to the middle of US too. Hmmmmmmmmmmm maybe I'm the delusional one and I'm wishing for something that will never happen. I love my country but even more I love this world and I would like for my kids, grand-kids, and great grand-kids to enjoy it too. I sure hope humanity get back on track. A/C is a privilege not a right!!!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  38. Jimmy Cracks Capricorns

    Reactor 4 has the entire planet in the balance – one more big tremor and that leaning pool of spent fuel rods will bring about a long term ELE. So long cruel world, we hardly knew you!

    June 13, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  39. FOR WHAT

    THAT DID SOUND LIKE CODE TALK BETWEEN THOSE 2 PEOPLE< FEELS LIKE A TV SHOW. rfXNazemeSean & ZQCricvSelso WHAT ARE YOU UP TOO?

    June 14, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  40. Squishy

    Super Cool bras, eh? Better be careful not to get freezer burn *there!

    And, ofc, witches won't need them, will they.

    June 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  41. Adam Jensen

    I live in the United States and I'd love to buy some of these Cool Biz suits, I like looking professional as much as the next business man, but comfort and practicality should always come first, I hope people never forget that.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  42. Adam Jensen

    "a civilized society would not allow it's self to be held hostage by the environMENTALists. make sure the reactors are safe, bring them back on line and crank up the AC!"

    It would be great to see some improved nuclear power plants that operate safely even in earthquake prone areas, maybe someone will get to work on that soon........I don't think it will be you though, and I don't think we should be taking your advice on what civilized people should aspire to, it would be like consulting a preschooler on investments.

    This is a wise way to help stay cool while awaiting improvements in power generation.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  43. darylin

    Love the bras, wish I could get one here in US. Very cute, the girls are too...

    June 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  44. Alan Rushing

    Great ideas and wise moves ... very good.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  45. SSG

    (lol!) I must say, as a post-menopausal woman, who spent much of her life in the tropics, those bras look like a grand idea!

    The basic ideas of dressing for the conditions are nothing new...we've just gotten away from them as we've become accustomed to having more central A/C and central heating. The fashion industry has had a field day as well, with the introduction of synthetic fibers (largely post-WWII). While those fibers have some nice characteristics, most of them do not breathe, which makes them hot in summer.

    In doing historical research, I've found that by looking at the traditional dress of various areas, it's often possible to discover principles that make the clothing appropriate for the climate. This can be adapted for seasonal wear in other areas...for example, the caftan, from North Africa, adapts beautifully and comfortably to any hot, dry climate, especially when made in a non-treated cotton or linen.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  46. Peter

    1. world heats up from pollution, causing record high temperatures
    2. complain about lack of A/C to keep up

    June 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  47. 82 tricks

    Look how political everyone is. It's a goofy story about how the island of Nippon is allowing it's straight-laced workforce to dress in all sorts of unorthodox ways. Bob, a silly republican looking to be boorish, implies that people showing a little concern for the environment are mental. Typical. Others pile on and the lines side up and once again we act like idiots. I wish the self-righteous would disappear to their own boring island in the middle of nowhere where they could debate things, so important to themselves, that nobody with a life would care about.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  48. Rex

    I ate them both but was hungry an hour later

    June 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  49. Dwayne

    Freezing bras? Now that's an erotic idea – Don't know how the ladies will enjoy that, but the guys sure will.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  50. Mark Tindle

    Freezing bras are a good idea. What about adding a V-popsicle for the lower forty... I apologize in advance...

    June 25, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  51. the bon

    anything that will show more boobies is fine with me

    June 30, 2012 at 1:50 am |
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    October 10, 2012 at 2:20 am |
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