Japan Goes Casual

japanese coolbiz fashion clothes
America is not the only place where sidewalks are simmering.

Three-piece suits are the way Japanese men used to suffer through the summer - suited up no matter what.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Barry Peterson reports, this year, the word is out to men: Take it off, shed the suits and toss the ties.

Even in Parliament, the prime minister and the country's lawmakers have abandoned their rigorous formality for the casual look.

Indeed, there was even a fashion show to show off wearing less.

And department stores are selling a style called cool biz, as in staying cool in the business place.

And just to make sure men get the message, Japan's environmental minister, Yoriko Koike, is telling companies to cut back on air conditioning.

"Naturally people will take off their ties and jackets," says Koike.

But a lot of Japanese men think it's more polite to dress up for business, as Kanehisa Ueda says.

Ueda says he's willing to suffer being hot, because it's a better look to wear a suit.

Someday in the near future, he says, "I will change."

There is, of course, a serious side to all this. Summer heat settles over Tokyo making the city what scientists call a heat island. Cutting back on air conditioning cuts energy use and that helps in the battle against global warming.

It's coming to this: dressing in a suit in Tokyo makes you feel like you're not doing your part for the environment and while today, it's off with the coat and tie, who knows what being cool tomorrow will mean.