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Dogs Help Post-Fukushima Japan Conserve Electricity

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Setsuden, or "energy conservation," is the order of the day in post-Fukushima Japan.

According to The Japan Times, offices and factories "are turning up thermostats and turning off lights, cutting back on overtime, and shifting work hours. Stations throughout Tokyo have turned off lights and escalators. Beverage vending machines are under attack for eating up too much electricity."

The Times also says "Individuals are being urged to turn off lights, limit the use of air conditioners and turn down the brightness on their TV screens." And apparently, Arakawa Ward in Tokyo "is planning to hold a summer setsuden 'mileage' contest in which residents can win setsuden products, such as a strap enabling one to recharge a cell phone with solar power, if they can demonstrate use of 20 percent less electricity than in the same month the year before."

However, the most widespread overhaul may be that of the average office worker's, or salaryman's, wardrobe -- spurred on by the Environment Ministry's Super Cool Biz energy-saving dress code.

"We're limiting air conditioners to 82 degrees to save energy," Masahiro Sato, the "father" of the program told NPR . "So we have to loosen up clothing guidelines, so people can be more comfy. As a target, we're looking at saving 10 percent of office electricity expenditure."

Perhaps feeling a pang of guilt for not having pulled their weight thus far, Japan's canine population has thrown its collective hat into the setsuden ring.

"The Setsuden energy-conservation campaign in Japan has spawned an industry of quirky products designed to beat the heat -- including cooling suits for hot pooches," writes the Wall Street Journal's Mariko Sanchanta.

Should it come as any surprise?

The American Pet Products Association estimates that $50.84 billion will be spent on US pets by the end of 2011, up from the $48.35 billion they spent in 2010.

That includes Kosher dog food, testicular prostheses for dogs feeling insecure after neutering, and something called the Flat-D Neutralizing Pad, the most "comfortable and least intrusive means for deodorizing gassy discharges in a thong design."

Y'know, suddenly, a cooling dog vest no longer seems at all unusual...
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