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Updated: 2005-05-25 10:05

Suits aren't cool enough for Japan

夏天酷热难耐 日本职业服装改革计划启动

Suits aren't cool enough for Japan

Suits aren't cool enough for Japan

You see them every summer morning, in the packed commuter trains and offices of Central Tokyo: men dressed in wool and polyester, sweating in the 90F heat. These are the salarymen, the warriors of the Japanese economy, for whom summer is a season more to be endured than enjoyed.

From June to September, a fug of humidity falls across Japan, tormenting office workers dressed in a uniform more appropriate for winter. But a salaryman in a T-shirt would be like a samurai without his sword, and there has been no serious challenge to Japan's business dress code for 150 years.

This week the Japanese Government embarks on an ambitious scheme to reinvent the appearance of the Japanese businessman. It is being pioneered by fashion designers, famous department stores and captains of industry, and led by Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister, himself.

The idea behind the initiative - christened with the English words "Cool Biz" - is simple and serious. Japan is lamentably behind in reaching its targets for reduction of ozone-depleting gases, despite hosting the 1997 Kyoto Conference at which they were set. The stated goal is to reduce 1990 levels by 6 per cent by the year 2012. But in 2003, emissions were up by 8 per cent on the base year.

Much of these come from the air-conditioning units, which thrum in Japanese offices during the hot months. So Mr Koizumi has ordered that from June 1 government offices should set the thermostats on their air conditioners for 28C (82.4F) - a little more than Tokyo's average August temperature and intolerable in a suit and tie. The air conditioning will rarely come on, so the Government has launched Cool Biz to persuade salarymen to take off their ties, unbutton their shirts and cast off their jackets instead.

"Japanese men are so hard to change," says Hiroko Koshino, a distinguished fashion designer who has devised a range of cool men's clothes at the Government's request. "It's a very, very challenging task."

Except at the most youthful of fashion and dot-com companies, casual Fridays never really caught on in Japan. Tsutomu Hata, a former Prime Minister is notorious for his ill-advised energy-saving office wear, created by simply chopping off the arms of conventional suits at the elbow. The garments looked as if a jealous lover had run amok, and are widely held to have set back the cause of dressing down in Japan.

The biggest obstacle is the strict hierarchy still operating in Japanese offices - for most salarymen it is unthinkable to indulge any innovation which has not previously been adopted by the boss.





此项计划的英文名称是Cool Biz (清凉商务)。发起此项计划的原因既简单又严肃。1997年,联合国气候大会在日本京都召开,会上通过了《京都议定书》。签署《京都议定书》的国家将确保在2012年前将二氧化碳等6种温室气体的排放量在1990年的基础上减少6%。而直到现在日本还远未能实现其降低破坏臭氧层气体的排放量的既定目标。2003年,日本气体的排放量反而比1990年增加了8%。









polyester: a wrinkle-resistant fabric of fibers made from any of these resins.(聚脂纤维,涤纶用这些合成树脂中的任一种制成的一种防皱的纤维)

salarymen: 工薪一族

: a heavy, stale atmosphere, especially the musty air of an overcrowded or poorly ventilated room(室内的闷浊空气)

tormenting: 使痛苦的,使苦恼的

samurai: the Japanese feudal military aristocracy(封建时代的日本武士,日本陆军军官)

amok: 狂乱地,杀气腾腾地

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