In a campaign to save energy during Japan’s increasingly hot summers, Prime Minister Koizumi has done the unthinkable. He’s asked Japan’s salarymen to shed their traditional coats and ties. In fact, he’s requested that all of Japan’s office workers dress less formally during the summer months.
In a country that prides itself on tradition, formality, AND following the instructions of authorities, this latest order is bound to cause some serious cultural confusion. It has been suggested that the suit and tie have become so ingrained in the Japanese mindset that the average Japanese businessman may not know how to dress in a “freestyle” fashion world.
Some recall the failure of “casual fridays” in the mid-90s when workers became stressed out while trying to determine what to wear on the day they were supposed to be relaxing. Others have suggested that a new business uniform be developed for the summer months.
Japan’s Environmental Ministry is stepping in to provide some guidance for bewildered workers. The Ministry has dubbed the new look “cool biz” and will be staging fashion shows featuring high profile business executives sans coat and tie.
It’s almost certain that some interesting new fashion statements may arise as a result of this new edict. The time may finally be right for former prime minister Hata’s eco suit (pictured) which failed to generate much enthusiasm when it was originally unveiled in 2000.
While the Japanese seem to be (grudgingly) willing to give the new mode of attire a try, the new program has generated some interesting reactions internationally. An editorial in the Khaleej Times laments that one of the last places on earth that still knows how to dress will soon be emulating modern America. The commentator continues by noting that he misses the days when everyone used to dress like Eisenhower.