The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has picked four fathers from 131 applicants to serve as standard bearers for the participation of dads in child-rearing.

The four were named Monday as “the stars of ‘ikumen’ ” to share with the public their experiences of caring for their children.

Ikumen, a term coined by the Hakuhodo advertising agency, combines “ikuji” (child-rearing) and the English word “men.” The ministry launched the Ikumen Project in June with the aim of increasing the number of fathers who take parental leave and participate in child-rearing.

“We hope to introduce (such fathers) every month” on the project’s website, health minister Akira Nagatsuma said at a news conference Tuesday.

The four star fathers are Jun Kitahashi, a disabled worker at a day care center for the elderly in Osaka who has a son; Yutaka Igarashi, a house husband in his 30s in Hokkaido; Takashi Nishimura in Shiga, who took parental leave for a month to look after his two sons; and Masahiko Kotani, a resident of Okayama in his 30s who formed a group for fathers to participate in child-rearing.

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