Japan's birth rate hits record low, Tokyo introduces government dating app to boost marriage rate

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

Japan is facing a daunting demographic challenge as its birth rate has fallen to an unprecedented low, prompting the government to launch initiatives to reverse the trend, including the launch of a state-backed dating app, reports CNN.

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Data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare shows that only 727,277 babies were born last year in a country of 123.9 million, a sharp drop in the number of babies born. This drop in fertility is evident in the fall in the fertility rate, which has now fallen from 1.26 to 1.20.

A fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to maintain a stable population. Yet, Japan has struggled to meet this benchmark for the past five decades, a trend exacerbated by the 1973 oil crisis, which triggered a global economic recession.

The consequences are grave. Japan is experiencing a higher death rate than births, leading to a population decline, raising concerns about its workforce, economy, and social structure. In 2023 alone, the country will see 1.57 million deaths, more than double the birth rate, CNN reports.

Marriages are also on the decline, with a significant drop of 30,000 marriages last year, while divorces are also on the rise. Experts predict this decline will continue for decades given the country's demographic imbalance.

Efforts are underway to mitigate these challenges, with the government establishing special agencies to address the issue. Initiatives include expanding child care facilities, housing subsidies for parents, and, in select areas, financial incentives for couples with children.

A new approach has emerged in Tokyo: a government dating app. Still in early testing, the app aims to facilitate connections between individuals seeking marriage.

Described as a “first step” toward marriage, the app uses an AI matchmaking system provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Users undergo a “values ​​diagnostic test” to determine compatibility, with the option to specify desired characteristics in a partner.

According to CNN, technology tycoon Elon Musk agreed with Japan's initiative and stressed the important nature of addressing the problem of declining birth rates.

However, experts caution against apocalyptic scenarios, saying demographic changes, while transformative, will not lead to the extinction of countries like Japan.

The dating app highlights the government's commitment to promoting marriage, and urges those seeking marriage to take the first step. Eligibility criteria require users to be single, over 18, and live or work in Tokyo.

In addition, the app promotes additional support measures, including guidance on work-life balance, child care and housing assistance, as well as promoting men's involvement in domestic responsibilities and career counselling.

The effort seeks to redefine the concept of couplehood, and encourages reflection on the importance of marital commitment. Through these multifaceted efforts, Tokyo aims to catalyze a cultural shift toward marriage that offers hope for a reviving demographic landscape, reports CNN.

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