When the Japanese media started to harp on about the fatigue emerging among ikumen — men who help their wives with child-rearing and other domestic duties — I just had to laugh. Being a Japanese sake brewer's husband, I was confident that I was streets ahead of these trendy men bragging about their remarkable deeds as dutiful husbands.

While it must be every working mother's ardent wish to have a partner committed to family duties, the existence of ikumen is a fairly new phenomenon in Japan. The trend has been depicted as representing a big shift in traditionally patriarchal Japanese society, where men ruled the roost. Back in the day, samurai never questioned whose job is was to cook dinner or do the dishes — this was all women's work. Then came this new breed of men. Needless to say, they were almost unanimously welcomed, and "ikumen" became a buzzword to praise fathers who took on an active role around the house.

But were these men doing this for real or just going through the motions? Would they last? Unless what they are doing is genuinely out of necessity, they'd soon burn out, I thought.