The Rise of Ikumen (child caring fathers) in Contemporary Japan
The Japanese word, Ikumen which originated from Ikemen (handsome men) refers to those “cool” fathers who are actively involved in caring for their own children. This word has become well-known among the Japanese public as evidenced by it being nominated one of the top 10 words in 2010 Buzzwords-of-the-Year Contest. In this lecture, we focus on this Ikumen phenomenon by describing historical and contemporary social, economic and political factors that contributed to the increase of Japanese fathers’ participation in child care. Antecedents and consequences of fathers’ participation in child care will also be examined from sociological perspectives. Most of the findings presented in this lecture come from the data collected in two projects, “Gender Sensitive Approaches to Work-Life-Balance” and “Parenting in IT Society.” Our analyses show that workplace factors as well as family socialization are significant factors affecting paternal involvement. Implications of our research findings will also be discussed in relation to policies, education and practice.