Men's Unpaid Domestic Work: A Critique of (Re)Doing Gender in Contemporary Japan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter examines Japanese men’s involvement in unpaid domestic work in relation to paid (public) work, family and wellbeing, bringing gender into scope. It analyses the government-initiated fatherhood campaign ‘Ikumen Project’ and a relatively newly emerged gender figure of what is referred to as ‘iku-men’ (‘men who engage actively in child rearing’). The Ikumen Project, where the trope of the iku-men serves as the project’s grand concept, offers a useful site that allows us to examine the intersections between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ paradigms of work-family models in contemporary Japan. This chapter suggests that the government utilises the particular ‘family-friendly’ (‘famirī furendorī’) campaign as a public arena for meaning-making, through which to disseminate positive images of men’s child rearing, encourage men’s unpaid domestic work and women’s paid employment, increase the birth rate and ultimately improve the economy. Based on Candace West and Don Zimmerman’s theory of ‘doing gender’, this chapter argues that the Ikumen Project still relies on the ‘old’ paradigm of a work-family model predicated on the male breadwinning model and thus can ‘redo’ gender, while legitimising Japanese men’s active involvement in unpaid domestic work and family life as a ‘new’ norm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFamily, Work and Wellbeing in Asia
EditorsMing-Chang Tsai , Wan-chi Chen
Place of PublicationGateway East Singapore
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789811043130
ISBN (Print)9789811043123
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

Name Quality of Life in Asia


  • Unpaid domestic work
  • Japanese fathers
  • Ikumen
  • Work-life balance

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