Japan’s Global Warming Campaign Has Necktie Industry in Knots
A campaign by the Japanese government to stop global warming by switching to casual clothes has necktie makers hot under the collar.
The idea might have been to help slow global warming, but Japan’s necktie makers fear a government campaign to get people to wear light clothing and turn down the air conditioners during the summer could be seriously bad for business. With Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi leading the way, the government started a national “No jacket, no tie” campaign this month that urges public workers to leave their ties and jackets at home so that air conditioning can be turned down to save energy. Top government leaders are now showing up in Parliament and at Cabinet meetings without ties.
The idea has gotten a warm reception, and, tongue-in-cheek, TV programs and magazines have been evaluating the fashion sense of each minister. But necktie makers said Thursday they fear the new dress code could cost them up to 30 percent of their 200 billion yen ($1.83 billion) annual sales. “We are not opposing the Cool Biz itself. Dressing cool is fine,” said Tetsuo Yamada, a spokesman for the Federation of Japanese Necktie Unions. “The problem is the slogan that discriminates against neckties.”
Getting rid of neckties is but the first step to anarchy, I say.
From an economic perspective, though, one industry’s loss is often another’s gain. So it is in this case:
Elsewhere in Japanese business, however, the new policy is expected to boost the economy, especially for shirt makers, as the country’s 250,000 national bureaucrats retool their monochromatic wardrobes. Economy Minister Heizo Takenaka said the effort could raise consumer spending by at least 10 billion yen ($91.7 million). The figure rises to 600 billion yen ($5.5 billion) if local government and private industry workers are included.
The same thing happened in the United States when the corporate casual wave hit in the 1990s. Men who had a perfectly acceptable business wardrobe consisting of a handful of suits, a few neckties, and a couple pairs of dress shoes had to go out and outfit themselves with new clothing.