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Japan Urges Workers to Take the Stairs

TOKYO (AP) _ Staff at Japan's Health Ministry are being asked to ditch the elevator and take the stairs as the ministry strives to conserve energy and reduce the risk of obesity and health-related problems among its employees, a newspaper reported Sunday.

From Monday, staff and visitors to the 26-story building in downtown Tokyo will be greeted with a sign in the elevator lobby saying ``Please use the stairs,'' the Asahi newspaper reported.

The idea was proposed by a senior ministry official who overheard employees grumbling about the long wait for elevators since the ministry suspended the daytime use of six of its 18 elevators to curb global warming, the Asahi said.

Some employees complained that they had been late for meetings because of the reduced elevator service.

The complaints, instead, led to an unusual step: A request to use stairs rather than waiting around for the elevator.

The Health Ministry occupies the first 22 floors of the building, with the Environment Ministry offices and a cafeteria on the final four floors.

Staff were expected to follow the policy within reason, the Asahi said.

Ministry officials were not available for comment on Sunday.
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