Ties Against Kyoto

June 4, 2005

Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has challenged his cabinet to quit wearing jackets and ties to work in an interesting effort to help Japan meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. He is at the top of the movement that Japan’s Evironmental Ministry hopes will enable Japan to use less energy to power air conditioning units this summer. (“[Koizumi] fordert auf Plakaten und Zeitungsanzeigen legere Sommertracht im Büro und erschien am 1. Juni ohne Schlips in der Kabinettsitzung.“)The idea is that if male workers don’t have to wear jackets and ties to the office, the air conditioners don’t have to be set so low and use so much energy. This plan overlooks the fact that hot is hot and getting to come to work without a tie is hardly going to be worth the trade for a hotter office all day long.

In any event, the calculation goes that if the temperature in all offices in Japan is raised from 25 to 28 degrees celsius, then the country can avoid burning 350 million liters of oil for air conditioners. Japan’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Heinzo Takenaka, even believes that this will help turn the economy around because it will cause people to “stream into” shops and boutiques to “freshen up” their work wardrobe. (“Wirtschaftsminister Heinzo Takenaka träumt sogar von einer Konjunkturbelebung durch “Cool Biz”. Bürokraten und Angestellte sollten in die Boutiquen strömen, um ihre eintönige Arbeitskluft aufzufrischen.“) It seems to me that people will be “streaming” all right–with sweat–and will definitely need to “freshen up,” but I think it is a little overly optimistic to think this will be what turns the economy around.

All of this just seems a little contrived to me. But if they think this will work, more power to them.