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What's going on in Japan? (No.26)

'Cool biz' campaign puts a fire under Father's Day sales. The prospect of a long, hot summer without air conditioning is fueling sales of Father's Day gifts at Tokyo's top department stores. Father's Day has traditionally been a relatively unimportant date in Tokyo's shopping calendar, with only half the sales of Mother's Day. But Matsuya Co., which runs Matsuya department stores, says its Father's Day business is up 15-20 percent compared with last year. Sogo & Seibu Co., which operates Sogo department stores and Seibu department stores, has seen an increase of 20 percent. Much of the interest seems to be in "cool biz" garments designed for Japan's intensely hot and humid summer. With power shortages in the aftermath of the March 11 quake forcing companies and transit networks to economize on air conditioning, it seems children are kitting out their dads to endure the summer misery. Department store representatives say more shoppers are arranging delivery of presents to distant fathers. A week before Father's Day, about 10 percent more deliveries had been arranged at Sogo & Seibu stores this year compared with 2010.

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