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

Tokyo: Japan faces a daunting demographic challenge as its birth rate plunges to an unprecedented low, prompting governmental initiatives to reverse the trend, including the rollout of a state-backed dating app, CNN reported.
In a nation with a population of 123.9 million, a mere 727,277 births were recorded last year, a stark decline revealed by data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This downward spiral in fertility is underscored by a drop in the fertility rate, now standing at 1.20, down from 1.26.
A stable population demands a fertility rate of 2.1. Yet, Japan has struggled to meet this benchmark for over five decades, a trend exacerbated by the 1973 oil crisis, which precipitated economic recessions globally.
The repercussions are profound. With deaths outnumbering births, Japan faces a shrinking population, fueling concerns regarding its workforce, economy, and societal structure. In 2023 alone, the nation witnessed 1.57 million deaths, doubling the birth rate, as reported by CNN.
Marital unions, too, are on the decline, with a notable decrease of 30,000 marriages last year juxtaposed with a rise in divorces. Experts anticipate this decline to persist for decades, given the nation's demographic imbalance.
Efforts to mitigate these challenges are underway, with the government establishing specialized agencies to address the issue. Initiatives include the expansion of childcare facilities, housing subsidies for parents, and, in select regions, financial incentives for couples to have children.
In Tokyo, a novel approach emerges: a government-operated dating app. Currently undergoing preliminary testing, the app aims to facilitate connections among individuals seeking marriage.
Described as "the first step" towards matrimony, the app employs an AI matchmaking system provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Users undergo a "values diagnostic test" to ascertain compatibility, with an option to specify desired traits in a partner.
Elon Musk, the tech magnate, expressed approval of Japan's initiative, emphasizing the critical nature of addressing declining birth rates, according to CNN.
However, experts caution against apocalyptic scenarios, asserting that demographic shifts, while transformative, will not result in the disappearance of nations like Japan.
The dating app underscores the government's commitment to fostering marital bonds, urging individuals with a desire for marriage to take the initial leap. Eligibility criteria mandate users to be single, over 18, and residing or working in Tokyo.
Furthermore, the app promotes additional support measures, including guidance on work-life balance, childcare, and housing assistance, as well as promoting men's involvement in domestic responsibilities and career counselling.
The endeavour seeks to redefine the notion of couplehood, encouraging contemplation on the significance of marital commitment. Through these multifaceted efforts, Tokyo aims to catalyze a cultural shift towards marriage, offering hope for a revitalized demographic landscape, CNN reported.

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