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日本办公室闷热的原因

时间:2011-01-11 13:51 点击:
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当我们这群将在日本呆上10天的记者出现在日本媒体公司--日本经济新闻的办公室时,我早该怀疑某些事不太对劲,即日本同行、专栏作家和编辑都为没打领带而道歉。在此之前,我们得知这是正式的商业会议,必须正装出席。但几分钟后,我们明白了日本同行着装随意的原因。崭新的东京办公大楼里,空调好像出现了故障。整个办公楼闷热得像迈阿密。

穿梭在这座城市里,我想我发现了一种流行病--空调故障。没戴领带的日本官员接待着大汗淋漓的美国客人,相同的场景在外交部、日本银行和民主党的总部重复出现。日本钢铁联盟的会议室热得像一个干燥箱。这是一个真实的谜,因为日本因其商业礼仪和发展制冷技术而闻名。每天早上,我都讶异于酒店浴室里的贴墙镜子在水槽上方那一处总奇迹般地出现一个完美的无水汽的长方形。

但我很快解开了空调故障的谜底。日本热切地拥护那些能减少气体排放的技术和制度,而且积极地与全球变暖做斗争。它发明了混合动力车,拥有发达的公交系统,并且利用了风能。在2005年,环境大臣小池百合子,一位具有开创性的女政治家,一直在寻找能减少能源耗费的方法。最终她提出“清凉商务运动”。构思如下:政府将在夏天时使办公大楼里的恒温器处于28摄氏度,即82.4华氏度,以此减少能源费用。它很快产生了效果并同时被商业公司采用。自从日本的能源专家发现,只是简单地解开衬衫的一颗扣子便能使人们觉得气温降低了4摄氏度,从此轻便着装成了清凉商务思想的一部分。(这是ABC关于此现象的新闻报道)这周内我们见到的唯一的穿着正式的人就只有美国人--驻日本美国大使馆的外交官以及美国商会的拥护者。

清凉商务的起源实践了小池所推崇的计划。她是日本的希拉里。曾担任电视台的主持和记者,是日本首位女国防部长,后来在为她的政党竞争领导权时落败。她依然尝试着打破日本的铁板。我们在她(热气沸腾)的区办公室里进行采访,讨论政治, 那时电视正播着关于她广播生涯的精彩报道。“创造一个低碳社会极其重要,”她说,“这将使经济更加健康。”当我们走出大楼,在沉闷的傍晚空气里寻得一丝慰藉时,小池开着普锐斯匆匆离去。

请别误会。夏天调高恒温器,冬天调低,这是一个很好的减少能源消耗和对抗全球变暖的方法。但如果我们将沿着全球商业一体化这条路发展,我们可能得考虑允许专业人士穿着短裤T恤上班。

我突然想到,清凉商务可能会对日本产生不良影响。目前日本正面临着某种生存危机。十多年来,它的经济发展缓慢,人口持续下降。整个国家好像失去了勤奋工作和繁殖的能力。

日本商业联盟经济政治局局长藤原说,一些明显的图表显示,在未来50年里,人口将迅速下降,这将对经济造成可怕的影响。日本的人口/经济问题可能与清凉商务项目有某些联系。一年的大部分时间里,室内的热气耗尽了人们写商业规划或增长人口的欲望。就像著名日本专家科尔.波特那令人难忘的说法:“这该死的太热了。”

译文:Why Japan keeps offices so hot

I should have suspected something was amiss when we—the group ofjournalists I'm traveling with in Japan for 10 days—showed up at theoffices of the media company Nikkei, and our Japanese counterparts,columnists, and editors apologized for not wearing ties. We hadreceived instructions that meetings were business formal, jacket andtie. But after a few minutes, we understood why our Japanese colleagueshad gone business casual. The air conditioner in their brand-new Tokyooffice tower seemed to be on the fritz. It was as hot and muggy asMiami.

Shuttling about the city, I thought I haddiscovered an epidemic of air-conditioning malfunction. The sameexperience of tieless Japanese officials welcoming sweating Americanswas repeated at the Foreign Ministry, the Bank of Japan, and theheadquarters of the Democratic Party of Japan. A conference room at theJapan Iron and Steel Federation was like a sweatbox. This was a truemystery, since Japan is famous for 1) business formality and 2)developing cooling technology. Every morning, I marvel at thewall-length bathroom mirrors in my hotel on which a perfect rectangleabove the sink remains miraculously steam-free.

But Isoon solved the mystery of the failing air conditioner. Japan haseagerly embraced technology and practices that will reduce emissionsand .It invented hybrid vehicles, has extensive mass-transit systems, anduses wind power. In 2005, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike, apioneering female politician, was seeking ways to slash energy use. Andshe came up with the .The idea: Government would cut energy bills by keeping thermostats inits buildings at 28 degrees Celsius—82.4 degrees Fahrenheit—during thesummer. It quickly andwas adopted by the business establishment as well. Since Japan's energymavens realized that simply unbuttoning a shirt collar can make peoplefeel about 4 degrees cooler, dressing down became part of the Cool Bizmentality. (Here's an ABC News .)The only people we met with this week wearing suits, ties, andcufflinks were Americans—diplomats at the embassy and the boosters fromthe American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Theprogenitor of Cool Biz practices what she preaches. Koike is sort ofthe Hillary Clinton of Japan. A former television anchor and reporter,she served as the nation's first female defense minister and thenmounted an unsuccessful challenge for her party's leadership. She'sstill trying to break Japan's iron ceiling. We visited Koike in her(boiling) district office, discussing politics while a highlight reelof her broadcasting career played on a television. "It's important thatwe create a low-carbon society," she said. "It will make our economymore wealthy." As we exited the building, finding relief in the heavyevening air, Koike was whisked away in a .

Don'tget me wrong. Turning up the thermostat in the summer and turning itdown in the winter is a fine way to reduce energy use and .But if we're going to go down this road as a global business community,we might consider allowing professionals to show up to work in shortsand T-shirts.

And it struck me that Cool Biz might becounterproductive for Japan. Japan is currently facing something of anexistential crisis. has grown very slowly for more than a decade, and its population isdeclining. It's as if the nation has lost its capacity for hard workand procreation.

Kiyoaki Fujiwara, director of theeconomic policy bureau of the Japan Business Federation, laid out somestark charts showing a rapid population decline over the next 50 yearsand the dire economic impact it would have. But maybe there's someconnection between Japan's demographic/economic issues and the Cool Bizprogram. For a good chunk of the year, the heat indoors saps the desireto write a business plan or to increase the population. As the notedJapan expert Cole Porter memorably put it: "It's Too Darn Hot."

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