Japan "Cool Biz" campaign off to a chilly start
TOKYO (Reuters) - An unseasonal chill had some cabinet ministers shivering in their short-sleeved shirts as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched Japan's annual "Cool Biz" fashion campaign to save energy and fight global warming.
Japan began its "Cool Biz" push two years ago to get office workers to shed their stuffy suits and ties and keep thermostats at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Known as a stylish dresser himself, Abe had instructed his cabinet members to wear 'kariyushi' summer wear from the southern island of Okinawa, similar to Hawaiian aloha shirts.
"It's nice and comfortable. But today it seems a bit chilly," Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, clad in a blue short-sleeved shirt imprinted with tiny red cats and birds native to Okinawa, told reporters.
"I ordered a long-sleeved shirt but they were out of stock so I could only get short-sleeved," added Yanagisawa, who appeared pleased to have something to talk about other than a furor over mismanaged pensions that is dogging Abe's administration.
Administrative Reform Minister Yoshimi Watanabe welcomed the chance to substitute a collarless shirt for his jacket and tie.
"It's good for people like me with no neck," said the stocky politician.
Economics Minister Hiroko Ota, one of only two women in Abe's 17-member cabinet, was complimented by reporters on her striking red 'kariyushi' with a butterfly and floral print.
"Thank you. It's actually still a bit cold to wear this. But this building is hot, so it's nice," Ota told reporters.
The temperature on Friday morning was around 4 degrees below the June 1 average of 21.8 centigrade, but was expected to warm up later, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Later in the day, Abe, keen to polish his anti-global warming credentials ahead of next week's Group of Eight summit in Germany, took part in a demonstration of Japanese clean diesel cars at his official residence.
"I feel certain that Japan's energy-saving technology is the best in the world," he said before test-driving several cars.
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