Will Japan's Govt-Run Dating App Help Curb Declining Birth Rates?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will launch its dating app as early as this summer, as part of its efforts to raise the country's falling birth rate, according to an official. 

Oshi Saxena
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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will launch its dating app as early as this summer, as part of its efforts to raise the country's falling birth rate, according to an official. Users must present evidence proving they are legally single and sign a letter declaring their willingness to marry. Declaring one's income is typical on Japanese dating apps, but Tokyo will require a tax certificate slip to verify the annual income.


"We learned that 70% of people who want to marry aren't actively using events or apps to find a partner," said a Tokyo government official in charge of the new app, as reported by the Japan Times. "We want to give them a gentle push to find one."

In Japan, where births fell to a record low in 2023, municipalities frequently organise matchmaking events, but it is unusual for a local government to launch an app. As part of the registration procedure for the Tokyo app, which has been on a free test run since late last year, a user's identification will be confirmed via interview.

Many social media users were sceptical about the ideas, with one asking, "Is this something the government should be doing with our tax?" While others stated that they were interested because they would feel safer.

Surprisingly,  Japan recorded 1,590,503 deaths last year, while births declined for the eighth year in a row to 758,631, a 5.1% decrease, according to preliminary government data. 

Why is Japan's Total Fertility Rate hitting record lows?

According to data by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Japan's total fertility rate, or the average number of births per woman during her reproductive years, declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, reaching a new record low. The total fertility rate is the number of children born to each woman if she survives to the end of her reproductive years. The ministry calculates the total fertility rate by adding the birth rates of women aged 15 to 49.


The overall figure fell to 1.20 last year, 0.06 points lower than in 2022, according to the ministry. Tokyo's rate dropped below 1.0 for the first time. It was 0.99, down from 1.04 the previous year, and the lowest among Japan's 47 prefectures. The highest figure was in Okinawa's southern prefecture, at 1.60, but it was down from 1.70 the previous year.

The total number of births to Japanese citizens in the country was 727,277 in 2023, a 5.6% decrease from the previous year. The natural loss in population increased by 6.3% to 848,659. Since 2007, the decline has lasted 17 years. 

For five decades, the total fertility rate has shown a declining pattern. And, while fertility increased modestly in the 2000s, it has steadily dropped since 2016. Without immigration, a country's population must maintain a fertility rate of 2.1.

Last year's birth rate in Japan was likewise a record low. It declined by 43,482 from the previous year to 727,277, the lowest number since records began in 1899. According to ministry authorities, the falling birth rate has reached a critical point. They stressed that the period up to 2030 is the last option to reverse the trend since the young population is likely to decline drastically after that.

While the Japanese government has previously expanded its support for families raising children in hopes of stemming the decline by establishing the Children and Families Agency last year to oversee child-related policies, it has also passed an amended law strengthening financial support for families, including expanding child allowances and lowering the financial burden associated with childbirth and higher education.

However, the drop in marriage rates and the increasing age at which Japanese women have their first child, which have been identified as the primary contributors to the declining number of newborns, remain constant. The numbers show that the number of marriages declined by 6% to 474,717 last year, which authorities believe is a major factor in the dropping birth rate. According to the numbers, the number of marriages per 1,000 people fell to 3.9 in 2023, a new low from 4.1 the previous year. The average age of mothers giving birth to their first child was 31.0 in 2023, compared with 27.5 in 1995.


Multiple surveys show that younger Japanese are becoming increasingly hesitant to marry or have children, hindered by dim employment prospects, a high cost of living that rises faster than salaries, and a gender-biased corporate culture that places a further strain solely on women and working mothers. 

Japan's population of more than 125 million people is expected to shrink by nearly 30% to 87 million by 2070, with four out of every 10 people aged 65 or older.

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