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Cool Biz campaign promotes Okinawa kariyushi fashions

Date Posted: 2006-06-23

The brightly colored Okinawa kariyushi shirts have always been immensely popular on the islands, thanks to the subtropical climate.

Now, the Okinawa Governor is pushing the fashionable summer wear Japan-wide with a new Cool Biz campaign. It began a year ago, and Governor Keiichi Inamine is now posing the question “How we can boost the kariyushi shirts to a larger share of the market.” He modeled kariyushi last month in Tokyo during a Cool Biz campaign marketing project, and presented bright shirts to the Prime Minister, the Environment Minister Yuriko Koike and other government leaders.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi donned the kariyushi fashion a year ago, tying the cool casual wear to an energy saving campaign of his own. He approved government agencies wearing sports apparel instead of coats and ties, a move that would allow thermostats in government offices to be set at a higher level.

The kariyushi campaign is proving successful for Okinawa manufacturers. Since Koizumi’s bold move a year ago, shipments of shirts have soared from 40,000 pieces eight years ago to more than 300,000.

Inamine says the shirt Koizumi wore last year triggered orders for more than 600 of the same exact shirt. The shirts’ popularity has brought new manufacturers into the marketplace, jumping from six to 22.

The central Japan government website has even begun promoting kariyushi fashions on its website, offering tips on how to integrate the colorful design shirts into any wardrobe. Only the Cabinet office senior vice minister, Chiken Kakazu, is reluctant to embrace the shirts fully, suggesting Okinawa should design some more ‘toned down’ fashions that are more conservative.

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