Tokyo launches official dating app with single status verification to combat Japan’s birthrate decline

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jun 19, 2024 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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In an unprecedented move, the Tokyo government is set to launch an official dating app aimed at tackling Japan’s alarming decline in marriage and childbirth rates. The initiative, a world first, is designed to nudge the nearly 70 per cent of single individuals who express a desire to marry but remain inactive in seeking partners. This measure is part of a broader strategy to address what Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has termed the “gravest crisis our country faces.”

Unlike conventional dating apps, the Tokyo Metropolitan government announced early this month that its fee-based dating app will launch as early as this summer. Users will be required to undergo a rigorous registration process, submitting documentation to verify their legal single status and signing a letter confirming their intent to marry.

In an effort to foster transparency and trust, the app will also require users to disclose 15 pieces of personal information such as height, occupation, educational background, and even a tax certificate verifying annual income. You read that right—not only do you have to worry about who to swipe right on, you now also need to swipe based on verified tax returns!

The app, funded with a $1.28 million investment, is slated for a summer launch amid a deepening demographic crisis. Japan’s birth rate has plummeted for the eighth consecutive year, reaching a mere 758,631 births in 2023—a 5 per cent drop from the previous year. The nation now faces the stark reality of having more than twice as many deaths as births, marking it as one of the world’s oldest societies. Projections by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research forecast a population decline of 30 per cent, reducing the number to 87 million by 2070.

Surveys reveal that many younger Japanese are reluctant to marry or start families, citing bleak job prospects, a high cost of living that outpaces salary growth, and rigid corporate cultures that make it difficult for both parents to work. Additionally, societal attitudes towards children are becoming increasingly negative, with crying babies and playing children often viewed as nuisances. This environment leaves many young parents feeling isolated and unsupported.

Speaking to The Asahi Shimbun, a Tokyo government official explained: “If there are many individuals interested in marriage but unable to find a partner, we want to provide support. We hope that this app, with its association with the government, will provide a sense of security and encourage those who have been hesitant to use traditional apps to take the first step in their search for a partner.”

This initiative, although reminiscent of a dystopian and controlled matchmaking environment, reflects the severe demographic challenges Japan currently faces. It underscores a stark reality: in the battle against population decline, unconventional and perhaps controversial measures may become the new normal.

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