Japanese businesses are engaged in a national energy conservation effort called Cool Biz, designed to raise office temperatures from 79 to 82 degrees. The initiative is heating up offices from June until the end of September and saving lots of energy, reducing CO2 emissions and letting businessmen get away with not wearing jackets or ties.
Of course, Japan had a glorified wet T-shirt contest to celebrate the start of Cool Biz this season:
In a formal ceremony in Tokyo, young women in cotton kimonos splashed water from wooden buckets on the baking ground -- a traditional way to cool it down without using extra power.
The Cool Biz initiative has spread to almost all indoor locations like retailers, restaurants and grocery stores. Using too much AC is now culturally stigmatized in Japan and a government-linked group has set up a whistleblower hotline to report over-conditioners of air.
The only problem - 82 degrees is freaking hot. Even the old accepted office temperature of 79 degrees can be pretty steamy in business formal attire. Some experts think nude immobilization is the only solution:
Kozo Hirata, a physiology professor at Kobe Women's University in western Japan, has studied the interaction of clothes and skin and says 82 degrees can be comfortable only if you're thin, naked and stay still. Any physical activity warms up the body, and even light clothing hinders the skin's natural cooling mechanism.
Others complain that irritability caused by being hot and sweaty reduces workplace efficiency, or results in a loss of focus (pictured).
Japan Sweats It Out As It Wages War On Air Conditioning [Wall Street Journal]