Women Included in Japan’s Energy-Saving Push

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- What do you get when you combine news photographers, government officials and plenty of Beyonce music on a Friday afternoon in Tokyo?

Not just any fashion show, but the annual “Super Cool Biz” fashion show hosted by the Japanese government.

Yes -- it’s that time of year again, when buttoned up Japanese businessmen are officially given permission to swap out the usual suit and tie for casual wear in the name of energy conservation.  But this year, there’s a new wrinkle.

The Environment Ministry is extending its summer campaign to include women’s fashion.

“Women already have a lot of freedom to wear what they want (in the workplace), so the focus isn’t just on clothes,” a ministry spokesman said.  “It’s about managing sweat, odors, and heat.”

Specifically, the government is offering up makeup tips, hairstyle suggestions and fashion advice for those hot and humid days.

The government launched its Cool Biz campaign in 2005, as an effort to drastically cut the country’s CO2 emission. Officials urged offices to reduce the use of air conditioning, and dial up temperatures to a steamy 82 degrees.  In exchange, businessmen were relieved of their near uniform suits and given permission to wear short-sleeved shirts and casual trousers.

Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the government elevated its campaign to “Super” Cool Biz, taking office casual to new heights, green-lighting sneakers, polo-shirts and Hawaiian shirts.

The result? Japan has, on average, cut CO2 emission by more than 1.4 million tons annually, according to government figures. The numbers are only expected to increase, with nearly all nuclear reactors still idle, heading into the sweltering summer months.

With 2013′s campaign fully underway, the fashion show on Friday featured businessmen and women dressed in chinos, slacks, shorts and other “cool” styles making both travel and work more comfortable.  

Advice wasn’t limited to fashion; lifestyle tips were also given, like how to adequately combat sweating and body odor particularly on crowded trains.

Cosmetics companies like Shiseido and Kiehl’s have once again partnered with the Ministry of Environment to promote summer, heat-friendly products.  And as far as men’s beauty routines go, over 300 barbers submitted hairstyles to be selected as the 2013 “Cool Biz Hairstyle.”

Retail giant Uniqlo is wasting no time in advertising alongside the Super Cool Biz campaign, with plans to distribute and sell more than 100 items for men and women considered “cool and office appropriate.”

Though the Cool Biz months have already started and will continue through Oct. 31, the heightened “Super” campaign begins June 1 and continues through Sept. 30.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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