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Author and pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa coined the term in in a series of articles on marketing to a younger generation of Japanese men. She used it to describe some men who she said were changing the country's ideas about just what is -- and isn't -- masculine.
Typically, "herbivore men" are in their 20s and 30s, and believe that friendship without sex can exist between men and women, Fukasawa said. The term has become a buzzword in Japan. Many people in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood were familiar with "herbivore men" -- and had opinions about them. Shigeyuki Nagayama said such men were not eager to find girlfriends and tend to be clumsy in love, and he admitted he seemed to fit the mold himself.
He tells me I'm no good because I can't get a girlfriend. Midori Saida, a year-old woman sporting oversized aviators and her dyed brown hair in long ringlets, said "herbivore men" were "flaky and weak. Fukasawa said Japanese men from the baby boomer generation were typically aggressive and proactive when it came to romance and sex. But as a result of growing up during Japan's troubled economy in the s, their children's generation was not as assertive and goal-oriented.
Their outlook came, in part, from seeing their fathers' model of masculinity falter even as Japanese women gained more lifestyle options. Former CNN intern Junichiro Hori, a self-described herbivore, said the idea goes beyond looks and attitudes toward sex. Older generations of Japanese men are not happy about the changes. At a bar frequented by businessmen after work, one man said: "You need to be carnivorous when you make decisions in your life.
You should be proactive, not passive. Fukasawa said the group does not care so much about making money -- a quality tied to the fact that there are fewer jobs available during the current global economic recession. Japan's economy recently saw its largest-ever recorded contraction and has shrunk for four straight quarters. Blue chip companies Sony, Panasonic, Toyota and Nissan all reported losses in May, and most are forecasting the same for the current fiscal year.