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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March 2005, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Dress down to save Japan, PM says
Japanese office workers
In summer, many Japanese spend little time in the humid outdoors
Japan's prime minister plans to dress down this summer, and wants millions of Japanese office workers to do the same.

Junichiro Koizumi is asking workers to cast off their collars and ties in a national effort to use less energy on air conditioning.

To show how serious he is, Mr Koizumi has ordered government ministers to shed their suits to set an example.

Japan often endures hot, humid summers, forcing offices and bars to ramp up air-conditioning systems.

"Government officials will not shed their ties unless their bosses do," Mr Koizumi said.

"In principle, I want ministers to wear no ties and jackets this coming summer, as it will help save energy.

"I, too, will go without jackets and ties."

Tropical summers

Mr Koizumi was backed by his environment minister, Yuriko Koike.

She promised to hold a fashion show if ministers were unsure of exactly how to dress, Japanese media reported.

Summertime conditions in Japan's major cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, have had average daytime highs over 30 degrees Celsius for two and a half months in the past two years.

Tight collars and heavy woollen or polyester suits have been blamed for a loss of productivity in hot, humid weather.

Air-conditioning systems are regularly turned up to their highest setting and left on all day in an attempt to keep people cool.

But Mr Koizumi may not be entirely optimistic about his chances of changing the working habits of a nation of almost 128 million.

He tried the dressing-down idea on staff at his official residence last summer. Few took him up on the offer.

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Country profile: Japan
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Timeline: Japan
31 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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