(The following is a translation of an introduction by the author himself about the controversial book The Impending Era of Sons Nursing Their Parents: From the Front Lines of 28 Cases.)

Book title: The Impending Era of Sons Nursing Their Parents: From the Front Lines of 28 Cases
Author: Ryo Hirayama
Publisher: Kobunsha (2014-02-18), 318 pages

If you ask Japanese people what worries them now or in the future, more than a few would mention nursing of their parents. And what if a male were to take care of his parents? How will he view his family, career, and society once the nursing is his responsibility?

My original question was, “Why is it that adult males are at a loss of words about their roles as a son when they can eloquently assert their ideals about their roles as husband or father?”  To answer this question I started researching middle-aged sons, and I eventually reached the issue of sons nursing their parents. This was the starting point of my book. I interviewed 28 men who had ended up caring for their parents at home (some without choice), and I dug into the realities of life as a care-giving son.

It was an honor for me to have Chizuko Ueno write a commentary essay in this book. She gave me her endorsement (?) as “the ideal interviewer that men could talk to without feeling embarrassed about themselves” because of my lack of wealth, social status, and distinction. My subjects did talk to me candidly, baring their souls about their marital relationships, sibling dynamics, and coziness or competition with friends or colleagues. But what emerged was not their special experience as a social minority, but a “masculine” relationship protocol that applies to all men, and its vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Of course I would be happy if current and future caregiving sons read this book, but I would also like the females those who may play a principle role in the world of male caregiving as a wife, sister, or a mother to be cared for to also take a hold of this book.

Ryo Hirayama
Born in 1979 in Kanagawa. B.A. (Humanities) and M.A (Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology) from the University of Tokyo and Ph.D. from Oregon State University. His specialities are social gerontology and social psychology. He worked as a research fellow at the Japan Foundation for Aging and Health of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, and now continues his research at the former as a special research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. His main papers have been published in the Journal of Gerontology, Social Sciences, Journal of Family Theory & Review, etc. This is his first independent book published in the Japanese language.

Adapted and translated by Naoko Hirose

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