Japan: Your five o’clock shadow is hurting the environment

Stubble is the real enemy of climate change, say local officials in a northeastern Japanese city. Six years ago, Isesaki’s city government launched a "Cool Biz" campaign aimed to cut back on air-conditioning and conserve energy. But the campaign may have overstepped its boundaries: this summer, "Cool Biz" will require workers to shed their jackets, ...

Imagno/Getty Images)
Imagno/Getty Images)
Imagno/Getty Images)

Stubble is the real enemy of climate change, say local officials in a northeastern Japanese city. Six years ago, Isesaki's city government launched a "Cool Biz" campaign aimed to cut back on air-conditioning and conserve energy. But the campaign may have overstepped its boundaries: this summer, "Cool Biz" will require workers to shed their jackets, ditch their ties -- and shave their facial hair?

While the government claims "climate change" is the intended outcome of the mustache moratorium, some say their real goal is merely to create a city of uniformly "pleasant" looking people. Back in May, the government dispensed a point-black notice to its civil servants: "Some citizens find bearded men unpleasant, so beards are banned." Weeks later, with opposition to the "beard ban" mounting, officials found that the summertime promotional push for "Cool Biz" coincided with the new prohibition, and seemingly decided to throw mandatory shaving under the auspices of climate control, as well.

Whatever the real motivation behind the new legislation is, human rights lawyers (probably with Santa Clause impersonators and Rogaine lobbyists in tow) are fighting back, claiming the "beard ban" violates personal freedoms. I would argue compulsory beard-shaving is also unfair to a) the exceptionally hairy and b) those that just do not have the time, money, or energy to continually fight the physiological upshots of their Y chromosomes.

Stubble is the real enemy of climate change, say local officials in a northeastern Japanese city. Six years ago, Isesaki’s city government launched a "Cool Biz" campaign aimed to cut back on air-conditioning and conserve energy. But the campaign may have overstepped its boundaries: this summer, "Cool Biz" will require workers to shed their jackets, ditch their ties — and shave their facial hair?

While the government claims "climate change" is the intended outcome of the mustache moratorium, some say their real goal is merely to create a city of uniformly "pleasant" looking people. Back in May, the government dispensed a point-black notice to its civil servants: "Some citizens find bearded men unpleasant, so beards are banned." Weeks later, with opposition to the "beard ban" mounting, officials found that the summertime promotional push for "Cool Biz" coincided with the new prohibition, and seemingly decided to throw mandatory shaving under the auspices of climate control, as well.

Whatever the real motivation behind the new legislation is, human rights lawyers (probably with Santa Clause impersonators and Rogaine lobbyists in tow) are fighting back, claiming the "beard ban" violates personal freedoms. I would argue compulsory beard-shaving is also unfair to a) the exceptionally hairy and b) those that just do not have the time, money, or energy to continually fight the physiological upshots of their Y chromosomes.

Really, what’s next? Some people find Korean pop music unpleasant, so that’s banned too? Oh wait…

Sylvie Stein is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
Tag: Japan

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