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[Daikin 21st Survey on Attitudes of Modern People toward Air]

Investigation of the Summer in Tokyo! Awareness Survey of 100 Foreign Nationals working in Tokyo on "Business situations during the summer in Tokyo"

In the summer in Tokyo, people take part in Cool Biz but do not feel cool!?
80% of the foreign workers take part in
Cool Biz
but complain about not being able to implement it completely.

23 July 2015

Daikin Industries, Ltd. surveyed 100 foreign nationals and Japanese, respectively, currently working in Tokyo on the theme of the "summer heat in Tokyo" in a questionnaire titled "The 21st Survey on Attitudes of Modern People toward Air."

The "Survey on Attitudes of Modern People toward Air" has been conducted since 2002 to understand the awareness of "air" among modern people and related issues as well as promote interest and appreciation in many people concerning "air," which is often taken for granted.

Approximately 780,000 foreign nationals were working in Japan as of the end of October 2014, according to a report from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This was an increase of about 10% over the preceding year and marked the largest-ever number since a report on the employment of foreign workers had become obligatory in 2007. The number of foreign nationals working in Japan is expected to rise furthermore because of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and the government's policy to promote the acceptance of highly skilled foreign professionals.

The average temperature in Tokyo has increased by at least 3℃ in the last 100 years. As both temperature and humidity are high, the summer in Tokyo is well known as being intensely hot compared to other cities in the world. In recent years, the records for the number of days on which the temperature has risen above 30℃ and 35℃ have kept being broken in various places in Japan. Particularly, in Tokyo, its average temperature from April to September of the past 5 years has been above average. This means that the summer heat in Tokyo has gotten hotter year by year.

In "The 20th Survey on Attitudes of Modern People toward Air" conducted in the last year, we investigated the awareness of and current status regarding the summer heat in Tokyo among the foreign nationals who had experienced it. Approximately 90% responded that they felt "the summer in Tokyo was hotter than their home countries." Many of them were surprised to see "Japanese businesspersons working in suits (without taking off their jackets) even under the hot summer sun." The results revealed that they had surprise, questions, and curiosity about the business culture and customs in Japan.

In this 21st survey, we investigated the "awareness and current status of business situations during the summer in Tokyo" among the foreign nationals working in Tokyo. The results revealed that they do understand the ideas of the Cool Biz campaign and setting the temperature of air conditioners in offices at 28℃, but at the same time some people had doubts and complaints about them.

The primary results of this survey are as follows:

How do the foreign workers battle the summer in Tokyo?

  • 80% of the foreign workers take part in Cool Biz! On the other hand, there are complaints about not being able to implement it completely
  • 80% of the respondents feel that 28℃ is too hot as an office temperature setting. The difference from the temperature that they can work comfortably is about 4℃, nevertheless, more than half the respondents agree to set the office temperature at 28℃ to save energy and electricity!
  • About 60% of the foreign workers feel uncomfortable about the office environment in the summer!
  • The high population density, rather than the outside sizzling heat of the sun, may be a cause of the heat?
    The biggest cause of the heat that foreign workers suffer from may be a crowded train!?
  • Drinking hot tea even in the hot summer is a measure to beat the heat in some countries!
  • What should be taken into account when coming to Japan?
    Advice from the foreign workers battling the heat in Tokyo!

Does Cool Biz really help people feel cool!? 80% of the foreign workers take part in Cool Biz! But, at the same time, some people complain that they are not allowed to wear casual clothes sometimes...

How do the foreign workers in Tokyo feel and what impressions do they have about the business environment in the summer? We asked them about Cool Biz, which is one of the typical campaigns in the business environment in Japan.

The awareness rate of Cool Biz, which started in 2005 for the purpose of environmental protection, exceeds 90%, meaning that it has been sufficiently prevailing in Japan. Then, how about foreign nationals in Japan? When the foreign nationals were asked, "Have you heard of "Cool Biz", which is recommended by the Japanese government (Ministry of the Environment)?", approximately 80% of the respondents expressed awareness, with 79% selecting "I know it." This shows that Cool Biz is widely known by foreign nationals, as well.

When we asked, "Do you wear Cool Biz-conscious clothes for work?", 55% cited "Almost every day" and 26%, "Sometimes," resulting in approximately 80% responding that they do. Some overseas companies allow the workers to come to work not in a suit and people take for granted working without a jacket and tie during the hot season. In some companies in Japan, however, "The workers are required to be in formal wear when they meet with their customers." We see their confusion with the fact that they cannot take part in Cool Biz depending on the corporate culture or job type even if they would like to do so.

Chart 1. Have you heard of "Cool Biz", which is recommended by the Japanese government (MOE)?



Chart 2. Do you wear Cool Biz-conscious clothes for work?



Analyzing the percentage of foreign workers who take part in Cool Biz by the region they came from, the highest percentage was observed for the Middle East/Africa at 95% (73% cited "Almost every day" and 23%, "Sometimes"). This may be because they are accustomed to working in casual clothes as there are many hot areas in the Middle East and Africa. On the other hand, the rate for those coming from Asia was only 72%. The reason why many Asian workers wear a suit and tie in a business environment even in the summer might be because they tend to care about the corporate culture and customers's reactions just like Japanese.

Chart 3. (By region)Do you wear Cool Biz-conscious clothes for work?

It seems that many people think the practicality is important, with 79% of the respondents citing "cool, comfortable, and easy" for the reason they wear Cool Biz clothes. Compared with Japanese respondents, foreign workers responded that they wore lighter clothes because "They look good (22%)" and "I do not like suit jackets and neckties (30%)." It showed that they thought of the fashion when choosing the clothes more than Japanese. Also, the percentage of those who chose "They will help save electricity and power (30%)" was smaller than their Japanese counterparts. Foreign nationals may be less aware of the environment in taking part in Cool Biz.

Chart 4. Why do you wear Cool Biz-conscious clothes?



Regarding Cool Biz itself, a majority of the respondents gave favorable replies saying, "It is helpful because it allows me to wear lighter clothes (without hesitation)" or "It is necessary to save energy." Among many foreign workers, however, wearing casual clothes in the summer is quite natural and they do not understand "why the government needs to create a campaign for it." Also, some of them feel that Cool Biz has not been fully taken part in because Japanese companies have an inflexible idea regarding what can be worn in the business environment and place too much importance on the traditions and customs. There was a response that "The campaign is meaningless because everyone wears a suit at presentations and business meetings."

Please answer freely with your opinion on Japan's Cool Biz campaign.

  • Based on global warming issue and to combat it , Cool Biz is the perfect initiative.(from India)
  • I think it helps, if you work in a more traditionally oriented Japanese company. (from Philippines)
  • It's good, but unnecessary to make such a simple common sense thing into a "campaign" from a foreigner's point of view.(from United States)
  • I think it's a great idea, but needs better promotion. Many people (including me) would like to dress more comfortably in hot weather, but still feel pressured to wear formal clothes when meeting clients. (from United States)
  • It looks very artificial. When you visit people working in big companies, they apologize half an hour because they don't wear properly even if they want, due to cool biz. (from Turkey)
  • I think it's a good idea. But when I visit other companies for meetings, I still have to wear a suit.(from United States)
  • Good idea, but my idea of appropriate dress for summer is short pants, sandals and short sleeve shirts.(from United States)
  • It's smart, but not accepted by older Workers.(from Canada)

80% of the respondents feel that 28℃ is too hot as an office temperature setting.The difference from the temperature that they can work comfortably at is about 4℃, nevertheless, more than half the respondents agree to set the office temperature at 28℃ to save energy and electricity!

Concerning the recommended office temperature by the government to save energy, when we asked what people think of the office environment with a room temperature of 28℃, 29% stated " Unbearably hot," and 52%, "Hot and a little uncomfortable," i.e., approximately over 80% responded that it was too hot to work in an office at 28℃. Meanwhile, when they were asked, "Around what temperature make you feel comfortable to work?", the most frequently cited was 24℃ (19%), followed by 25℃ (16%) and 23℃ (15%). This means that there is about a 4℃ difference from the room temperature encouraged by Cool Biz.

In addition, when we asked "What do you think of the fact that the government recommends setting 28℃ as an office temperature?", more than half the respondents expressed their understanding of it, with 53% selecting "Can agree." As a reason for their agreement, many respondents expressed their understanding of the need to protect the environment, citing "It is good if it helps save energy," "It is good for the global environment," etc. Some respondents considered their physical condition, stating that "A small difference from the outdoor temperature might help prevent one from catching a cold." In the meantime, there were some who commented that the room size and number of workers in an office should be taken into consideration when setting the temperature as a reason for disagreement. It seems that some people are not satisfied with the uniform temperature settings.

Although many people feel hot in an office at 28℃, they do agree with the campaign itself for the sake of environmental protection in terms of saving energy and electricity. However, the result that the difference between the temperature they can work most efficiently at and the actual one is about 4℃ reveals that, despite their understanding of setting it at 28℃, they cannot help feeling it too hot and their bodies do not function properly in the heat.

Chart 5. How would you describe the office environment at 28℃?



Chart 6. Around what temperature make you feel comfortable to work?

About 60% of the foreign workers feel uncomfortable regarding the office environment in the summer!

When the foreign nationals working in Tokyo were asked, "How would you describe the temperature during summer in the office where you work?", 6% stated " Unbearably hot," 37% "Hot and a little uncomfortable," 15% "Cold and a little uncomfortable," and 3% " Unbearably cold," resulting in approximately 60% (61%) responding that the office environment in summer is uncomfortable.

We might have the impression that, in general, foreign nationals get hot easily, for example, some of them wear short-sleeved clothes even in midwinter or when climbing Mt. Fuji. This said, the survey results have disclosed that, while a certain number of foreign workers feel "Hot (Unbearably hot + Hot and a little uncomfortable)," there are also some who feel "Cold (Unbearably cold + Cold and a little uncomfortable)" regarding the office environment in summer. When we asked them the actual temperature of the office in which they were working, the most frequently cited response was "25℃ (19%)," followed by the government-recommended 28℃ (15%). Overall, about 70% of the responses were distributed between 24℃ and 28℃ but the remaining 30% ranged widely from 30℃ at the highest to 18℃ at the lowest. The setting temperature on air conditioners may vary in each office and the temperature sometimes may not even be the same in one place compared to another within an office. Therefore, some people feel cold because the air conditioner is too strong.

How we feel the heat greatly varies among individuals. In addition, there are various types of workers in an office, such as those who work in the office all day long and who often go out for sales or other activities. Under such a situation, it is very difficult to create an office environment where everyone feels comfortable. Making efforts or taking measures by individual workers may be necessary to work in a comfortable environment.

Chart 7. How would you describe the temperature during summer in the office where you work?



Chart 8. What is the temperature during summer in the office where you work?

The high population density, rather than the outside sizzling heat, may be a cause of the heat?
The biggest cause of the heat that foreign workers suffer from may be a crowded train!?
Commuting during the summer in Tokyo is exactly like "an endurance test"!

Businesspersons may spend a day in various places, e.g., visiting a customer or going out for a meal, after coming to the office. Then, where do they feel hot the most during the day? When we asked, "In which business situations, are you the most conscious of hot weather?", the most commonly cited response was "When commuting (51%)," followed by "When outside for business activities (31%)" and "When in my office (11%)."

According to the reasons they cited, it seems that many people suffer from crowded trains during their commute, which can be called a characteristic phenomenon in Tokyo compared to other cities in the world. The following are some of the reasons they cited:
"It is very hot despite having air conditioners on crowded trains during rush hour."
"There are too many passengers packed on trains and there is no breeze at subway stations."
"Trains are too packed so other passengersf sweaty backs are pressed against me."
"Sometimes I almost feel like I am suffocating from the lack of air and my skin feels itchy."
"I get so sweaty despite fully operating air conditioners because trains are too crowded."

It is often said that crowded trains during rush hour in Japan surprise foreign nationals. Many of the foreign nationals working in Tokyo seem to commute on such crowded trains. It is painful even for Japanese, though, the typical Japanese environment that is not seen in other countries may cause foreign workers to suffer more.

Chart 9. In which business situations, are you the most conscious of hot weather?

Drinking hot tea even in the hot summer is a measure to beat the heat in some countries!

We were talking about how the foreign nationals working in Tokyo feel about the heat in the business environment but how do they actually beat the heat? When we asked, "Do you have any activities, measures, or rules to spend the summer comfortably like Cool Biz in your home countries?", 90% of the respondents cited that "There is no such thing in my country." Although respective companies have dress codes at work in some countries, only Japan conducts a nationwide campaign to beat the heat.

Also when they were asked, "What are the unique ideas to deal with heat in business situation peculiarly your country have?" the unique activities came up as follows. Foreign companies seem to be more generous about the measures to battle the summer heat. Some countries have put into practice unique measures that are not likely to be done in Japan. The survey has disclosed that there are various measures for the summer heat in the respective countries and regions.

What are the unique ideas to deal with heat in business situation peculiarly your country have?

  • It is funny but in Turkey we drink hot tea in summer. They say it makes you feel cooler afterwards.(from Turkey)
  • Using coconut coir screen on windows with sprinkled water to make it wet all the time.(India)
  • Ten gallon hats and water to spray on them!(from United States)
  • Some companies hand out ice cream or cold drink for everyone in the team about 14:00. (from China)
  • In some regions, people close their shops at the noon. But it is difficult to do in private companies(from Turkey).
  • Sometimes people can leave early from work if it is too hot.(from South Africa)
  • Keep a jar of ice in the freezer and take it out to carry around with you to cool you down. (from United States)
  • We have "Hawaiian Summer" and can wear sandals, shorts, etc.(from United States)

What should be taken into account when coming to Japan? Advice from the foreign workers battling the heat in Tokyo!

The number of foreign nationals working in Tokyo is expected to keep increasing. What kind of recommendations to beat the heat do the foreign nationals who have already been working in Tokyo have? When we asked, "What advice would you give to people from your country coming to work in Tokyo?", the following responses were given:

What advice would you give to people from your country coming to work in Tokyo?

  • I advise them to beware of the heat and high humidity. To drink plenty of water and avoid too much stressful jobs.(from Nigeria)
  • Do not forget to check whether report before going out.(from Turkey)
  • Be ready for the rainy season, rain in summer is not something that we get used to. (from Turkey)
  • Make sure you carry a fan to cool off, a bottle of water to keep hydrated, and a handkerchief to dry the sweat!(from U.K.)
  • Be ready for the train and buy the refresh towels(from U.K.)
  • 100 yen shops sell so many useful things to prepare for the summer (and year-round too). (from United States)
  • Be prepared for a lot of changes in weather conditions, packed trains.(from U.K.)
  • Avoid peak hours for commute to and from office.(from India)
  • Food is not so spicy here so bring something spicy(from Egypt)
  • Try to have a jacket with you because you will freeze and may get sick once you get in a train or enter some store.( from Algeria)
  • It is better to go back to your country immediately if you are not ready to cope with the summer heat in Tokyo.(from Taiwan)

Many respondents advised people to pay attention to sudden changes in the weather in addition to the high temperatures and humidity. There was a recommendation to buy preventive goods against the heat at a 100-yen shop, which indicates that the respondent has already become very accustomed to his/her life in Japan. Another respondent, however, gave the advice that "It is better not to come to Japan in the summer." These responses indicate that they have been managing to survive the severe summer heat.

Reviewing the survey

The survey results showed that foreign nationals had a certain level of understanding about the typical Japanese campaign in the business environment in the summer, e.g., Cool Biz and the office temperature setting at 28℃. At the same time, it was also revealed that some foreign workers had complaints about the somewhat inflexible Japanese culture and customs, i.e., they were required to wear a suit on some occasions. Thinking of the fact that, in recent years, the records for the number of days on which the temperature has risen above 30℃ and 35℃ have kept being broken in various places in Japan, it may be better for us to apply the rule more flexibly in accordance with the respective situations.

In the meantime, the results indicated that many foreign workers were not happy about the office temperature setting. However, we would get sick if we frequently came in and out of hot and cold places. It is better not make a room too cold and the temperature difference between the inside and outside of an office must be kept as small as possible in order to avoid putting an excessive physical burden on the body. Sensitivity to temperature may differ individual to individual and, depending on the daily physical conditions, sometimes you might feel hot but other times you might feel cold under similar conditions. It may be difficult for people with different temperature sensitivity to spend time comfortably in the same space. That said, let's survive the summer in Tokyo successfully by making efforts, e.g., changing what we wear and using preventive goods against the heat and cold.

Study Outline

Title: " Investigation of the Summer in Tokyo!" Awareness Survey on " Business situations during the summer in Tokyo""
Sponsored by: Daikin Industries, Ltd.
Conducted by: Macromill, Inc.
Method: Questionnaire survey (Internet Survey)
Survey period: June 12 (Fri.) to July 7 (Tue.), 2015
Respondents: Foreign nationals residing in Tokyo at least one year
Sample size: Foreign nationals working in Tokyo at least one year ? 100samples
*The breakdown is as per the following table.
Japanese people working in Tokyo ? 100samples
Region United States/
Canada
Europe Asia Middle East/
Africa
Total
Respondents 26 23 29 22 100
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