Annual Cool Biz Campaign Kicks Off in Japan

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lenient / ˈli ni ənt, ˈlin yənt / (adj) – being understanding and flexible about rules

    The teacher was lenient about the student’s tardiness because he lived far from the school.

  2. attire / əˈtaɪər / (n) – clothes for a specific purpose

    The president always wears a professional attire when visiting other countries.

  3. ditch / dɪtʃ / (v) – to leave or get rid of something

    They can ditch their coats and wear something more comfortable.

  4. prohibited / proʊˈhɪb ɪt tɪd / (adj) – not allowed

    Bringing alcohol to work is strictly prohibited.

  5. revealing / rɪˈvil ɪŋ / (adj) – showing parts of the wearer’s body that are usually hidden

    Her mother did not allow her to wear the revealing dress.


Read the text below.

The Japanese government has recently begun its annual promotion of the Cool Biz campaign.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Environment, Cool Biz was originally launched in 2005 as a way to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and save energy.  While it first began in government offices, the practice eventually spread to private businesses.

To participate in the campaign, offices are encouraged to make two changes in the workplace. First, they are told to maintain their air conditioning at 28 degrees Celsius from May to September. Secondly, employers are asked to be more lenient about dress codes during this period.

This campaign also promotes summer office attires to employees. Once the Cool Biz period has begun, employees can ditch formal office attires such as suits and neckties. In some companies, employees are allowed to wear short-sleeved polo shirts, jeans, sandals, and Okinawan or tropical shirts except when meeting with clients. The campaign hopes casual dress codes will let employees work comfortably despite limited air conditioning. However, employees are still prohibited from wearing t-shirts, shorts, and clothes that are revealing.

Statistics show that the campaign has been successful in its endeavors. During Cool Biz’s first five years, it succeeded in preventing 7.92 million tons of CO2 emissions. In 2010 alone, 1.69 million tons of CO2 emissions were prevented by the program.

The program was also adopted in the United Kingdom soon after it was launched. In 2006, UK’s Trades Union Congress implemented “Cool Work,” which allows employees to wear shorts and other casual clothes, so they can work more efficiently.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you approve of the Cool Biz campaign? Why or why not?
• Would you modify any part of the campaign? Explain.

Discussion B

• Are office dress codes necessary? Why or why not?
• Why do you think some companies do not have dress codes?