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Wednesday, 26th June 2013
In General Japan News,

Japan's Environment Ministry changes Cool Biz advice to women

Japan's Cool Biz campaign, which was originally set up in 2005 in in a bid to cut the use of air-conditioning in offices to help halt global warming, has had to change advice given to women.

The Japanese news agency, The Yomiuri Shimbun, reported that the Environment Ministry had been forced to change recommendations issued to Japanese women following complaints.

Under the campaign, businesses are advised to keep their air-conditioning units set to 28 degrees Celsius in the summer, and women have therefore been advised to use antiperspirants to stop them sweating.

In addition, the ministry suggested that they use scented laundry softeners and wet tissues. However, these recommendations have been met with concern from the public over possible intolerances to the chemicals contained in such products.

A ministry official was quoted by the news agency as saying: "Though there's no sufficient proof of their causal relationship, we concluded that we need to give consideration to those who are sensitive to chemicals as long as concerns are raised."

The air-conditioning campaign was re-launched under the name Super Cool Biz following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami when the country experienced energy shortages as a result of the closure of many nuclear power plants.

Employees were advised to wear casual clothes but the campaign caused confusion among the Japanese population over the appropriate attire to wear for work.  

Recently, the Environment Ministry issued more specific guidelines about what is appropriate attire for the office to help avoid confusion and embarrassment in the workplace.

Those who work at government agencies and ministries are allowed to wear trainers, polo shirts and so-called aloha shirts when in their place of business. 

In a bid to highlight the Super Cool Biz campaign, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara wore a so-called kariyushi or informal shirt from Okinawa to a Cabinet meeting.

In 2011, Yuriko Koike, who was the environment minister when the campaign was initially introduced in 2005, said: "When we started Cool Biz in 2005, people said it was undignified and sloppy … but people have grown accustomed to it."