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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Riona Yuki | Diet members plan to dress in Warm Biz style

Following the ''Cool Biz'' campaign introduced this summer to save energy in a bid to prevent of global warming, the government and the Diet are introducing ''Warm Biz'' this winter. The government's decision to introduce Warm Biz was quick. In late August when the weather was still steamy, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike declared that the campaign would be launched in October. ''I would like to firmly establish a warm and attractive style that is easy to work in and not too dependent on heating,'' she said. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda also mentioned the government's promotion of Warm Biz in September. He said that government buildings would have to set the thermostat at 19 C from December to March and private sector companies would be called on to set it at 20 C. The Diet is following suit, and the temperature will be lowered in the Diet building during the same period. Both ruling and opposition lawmakers are supportive of the move. But lawmakers may have trouble finding the right clothes. In both chambers, overcoats and scarves are not allowed, and lawmakers must wear suits. ''Under Diet rules, overcoats and others can be worn if the house speaker says it's OK,'' said Jiro Kawasaki, chairman of the lower house's Rules and Administration Committee. '''Those suffering from a cold are exceptions.'' But crewneck sweaters will not be allowed since neckties cannot be seen. Ascots are also banned since they do not require button-down shirts. Both items are said to damage the ''dignity'' of the Diet as far as Diet rules are concerned. Nobuko Iwaki, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in the lower house, is not so crazy about Warm Biz. She said Diet members need dress well because they represent the people. ''I will keep wearing pink suits (symbolizing Japanese cherry trees) both in summer and winter,'' she said. One young bureaucrat said, ''After all, we cannot change clothes, although at the time of Cool Biz, all of us were excited over what clothes others would wear.'' Caught in the middle between doing their bit to save energy and obeying strict Diet rules, lawmakers and bureaucrats are racking their brains over what to wear. One veteran lawmaker note, ''In the summer, what we should have done was just remove neckties, but...''

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