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June 29, 2016

Initiative to Keep Cool at Work by Wearing Ethnic Clothing Featured in Textbook

photoA photograph in the textbook of JICA Kansai International Center staff members

Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz, an initiative the JICA Kansai International Center has implemented since 2013, will be featured in an English class textbook to be used beginning next spring in Japanese high schools.

The theme of the teaching unit in the book is "Let's Use Ethnic Clothing to Look at Ways of Thinking About the Environment and Culture."

The Japanese government's Cool Biz campaign was introduced in 2005 to save electricity in the summer by encouraging casual wear at work. What began in the government bureaucracy spread to private companies as well. Super Cool Biz — which allows even more casual clothing such as polo shirts and Hawaiian shirts — was launched by the government after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 when nuclear power plants were shut down and the country faced a lower supply of electricity.

photoA photo of a work scene also is included in the textbook.
photoThe textbook also has a box on Ethnic Clothing entitled "Lifestyles That Suit the Climate and Natural Features."

"Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz!" is an initiative that began with the idea that many developing countries are hot and have wisdom about what to wear to keep cool. It is an opportunity to spread this knowledge, as well as to educate about developing countries and international cooperation. This year too, from June 3 to the end of August, the JICA Kansai International Center has designated every Friday to be "Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz Day." Training participants are wearing the ethnic clothing of their respective countries, and JICA staff members are also wearing the ethnic clothing of developing countries while working.

To use "Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz Day" to bring about a better understanding of developing countries' clothing cultures and of international cooperation, articles were posted on the web pages of JICA Kansai International Center.

Interviews with training participants from each country who wore their ethnic clothing were periodically posted on Facebook as part of a proactive PR effort.

The initiative was covered by television stations and newspapers as not only an initiative to save electricity, but one that could only be done by an agency like JICA that accepts trainees from various countries around the world. A publishing company that makes textbooks took note, which led to the inclusion in the textbook.

The JICA Kansai International Center initiative is featured in a 7-page section of a textbook for high school freshmen entitled "Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz Project." It includes everything from basic information about JICA to this comment from a staff member: "The clothing of hot countries tends to be cool and easy to work in."

On June 3, when the first Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz Day of this year was held, three junior high school students also worked in ethnic clothing while job shadowing at JICA.

It is hoped that high school students, who are at an exploratory age, will be influenced by the textbook to develop an interest in JICA's work of development cooperation.

photoThree junior high school students doing job shadowing at the JICA Kansai International Center and the whole center staff gather for a photo on the first Ethnic Clothing Super Cool Biz Day of 2016.

photoTraining participants wear the ethnic clothing of their countries. From left are representatives of Honduras, Indonesia and Nepal.


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