Imagine Slate columnist Daniel Gross's surprise when he arrived at the Nikkei offices in Japan and was greeted by businessmen, sans ties. To appear so casual in the workplace is almost sacrilege in Japan, and yet here it was, happening.
Simple: It's the environment, stupid. And ironically, in a country obsessed with technology and where "business casual" is rarely allowed, it's a low-tech, remove-your-tie solution to the energy consumption problem that's ultimately to blame for Gross's, well, gross and sweaty Japanese experience.
You see, in 2005, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike, a woman who had once had
perspiration aspirations for the prime minister position, was vetting various ways to cut energy consumption. Her brainstorming led to "Cool Biz," a campaign that set all government building thermostats to 82.4 degrees during the summer. I'm sweating just typing that out this morning, but apparently it worked, and soon the business world adopted the practice too.
But since those temps are somewhat unbearable in the summer, Japanese energy scientists set to work on alleviating workers' pain. Their big solution? Suggesting they remove their ties and undo their shirt collars. Fun fact: People feel 4 or so degrees cooler when they do this.
The result is a Japan that consumes less energy at the expense of some ripe-smelling arm pits. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go adjust my air conditioner. [Slate]