Cool men! イケメン/ikemen イクメン/ikumen

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Oct 6, 2010 02:30 japan situation
Have you heard of the Japanese word, イケメン/ikemen? This word was coined a decade ago and used only among youth. In the past few years, the word has become popular to the point where elderly people who always have difficulty catching up with new words often use the word. イケメン/ikemen means good looking men. イケ/ike comes from the slang word, イケてる/iketeru (being cool). メン/men comes from 面/men (faces) and the English word, men.

Nowadays, I often hear another new word ,イクメン/ikumen, which was coined recently and are becoming popular. イク/iku comes from 育児/ikuji (child rearing). イクメン/ikumen means men who are willing to or are active in taking care of their children. According to the news, more and more husbands, especially young husbands, want to have more time to take care of their small children or spend with their children since they are wondering about a life like older generations are leading. Specifically, younger men think that it's meaningless that like older traditional men, they always work long hours and don't have time to spend their families. A few months ago, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare launched the イクメン/ikumen project to encourage men to take paternity leave since the declining birthrate is a serious social problem in Japan.

Today, nobody is surprised to see suited businessmen holding their babies on the way to their offices in order to take them to baby-care centers. In the past decade, the idea that both a husband and wife should be involved in taking care of their children has become common. More and more young husbands don't want their wives to give up their careers, want them to bear financial burdens and are willing to share housework. Some young men believe that the great involvement of child rearing will improve themselves. It's reported in the news that a major securities company requires all of their workers to finish their duties and leave their offices by 7p.m. so that their workers can have more time to spend their families. As a result, the company has succeeded in boosting employee working efficiency.

However, it's still a reality that many men who want to become イクメン/ikumen are forced to work long hours or hesitate to ask their company to take paternity leave since they feel under a great deal of peer pressure not to do it even though they have a right to do so.