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Japanese govt to launch its own dating platform to get people to have more babies

Japan’s fertility rate has hit a record low, prompting the government to take some rather peculiar steps and intervene in diffusing a possibly ticking time bomb. This includes the Japanese government launching its dating app for the residents of Japan.

Japan is already facing a growing labor shortage. To prevent this problem from ballooning into a catastrophic situation, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government is actively pursuing policies to promote the birth rate. This includes incentivizing singles and families with financial aid to have more children. The government is also working on policies that make child care, parental leave, and more more accessible.

The latest data from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare shows a significant drop in births and a declining fertility rate, exacerbating the nation’s demographic challenges.

Current situation
In 2023, Japan recorded only 727,277 births, marking a sharp decline in fertility from 1.26 to 1.20. This rate is significantly below the 2.1 threshold needed to maintain a stable population. In stark contrast, the country witnessed 1.57 million deaths, more than double the number of births, highlighting the severity of the issue. Moreover, marriages decreased by 30,000, while divorces saw an uptick, adding to the demographic woes.

Experts note that Japan’s fertility rate has remained below the replacement level for half a century, a trend that began after the 1973 global oil crisis. This persistent decline has resulted in a shrinking population, with profound implications for the country’s workforce, economy, welfare system, and social fabric. Despite various efforts, the trend shows no signs of reversing soon.

Government initiatives
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration is taking proactive steps to combat the declining birth rate. Recognizing the multifaceted nature of the problem, the government has introduced several measures aimed at promoting family formation and easing the burden of child-rearing. These measures include:

Financial Support: Provision of financial aid to families to help offset the costs associated with raising children.
Child Care Access: Expansion of child care facilities to ensure easier access for working parents.
Parental Leave: Enhanced parental leave policies to support parents in balancing work and family responsibilities.
Housing Subsidies: Offering housing subsidies to parents to create a more stable environment for raising children.

In addition to these measures, the government has established new agencies dedicated to addressing the population decline and its associated challenges.

A technological approach
In an innovative bid to boost marriage rates, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is testing a new government-run dating app. Scheduled to be fully operational later this year, the app is designed to facilitate connections between potential partners through a “values diagnostic test” and an AI-driven matchmaking system. It allows users to specify desired traits in a partner and aims to introduce them to compatible matches based on shared values.

The app’s website encourages users to consider it “the first step” in their marriage journey. It also provides information on work-life balance, child care, housing support, men’s participation in housework and child-rearing, and career counseling. The initiative is part of a broader strategy to build momentum for marriage among those who intend to marry eventually.

To use the app, individuals must be single, over 18 years old, and either living or working in Tokyo. The government hopes this tool will inspire users to reflect on the meaning of being in a couple and take concrete steps toward marriage.

A long and complex road
Despite these efforts, the road to reversing the fertility decline is long and complex. The demographic structure, with a high ratio of older adults to young people, means that even a sudden increase in the fertility rate would take decades to stabilize the population.

The government’s comprehensive approach, combining financial incentives, supportive policies, and innovative technological solutions like the dating app, reflects a deep commitment to addressing the demographic crisis. However, the effectiveness of these measures will depend on their ability to resonate with the younger generation and create a societal shift toward embracing marriage and family life.

As Japan grapples with these challenges, the world will be watching closely, as the solutions developed here could offer valuable lessons for other nations facing similar demographic issues.

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