Japan’s plan for its citizens to find a partner (and reproduce) | The State

A couple and their baby in Japan.

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Japan plans to boost its battered birth rate by funding artificial intelligence programs that help its citizens find love.

Starting next year, it will subsidize local institutions that are already executing or preparing projects that use this type of technology to match people.

The number of babies born in Japan in the last year was below the 865,000, which is a record drop in the birth rate.

This increasingly aging nation is looking for ways to reverse one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.

Boosting the use of artificial intelligence is one of his latest attempts.

The government plans to allocate 2 billion yen (US $ 19 million) to local authorities to increase the birth rate, the AFP news agency reported.

Artificial intelligence to find a partner

Many already offer matchmaking services, managed by people, and some have introduced various artificial intelligence systems in the hope that they will perform a more sophisticated analysis of the forms with which users submit their data.

Some of existing systems are limited to considering criteria such as income and age, and they only provide a positive result if there is an exact match.

Couple with children.
Japan’s population is projected to decline from a peak of 128 million it reached in 2017 to less than 53 million at the end of the century. Getty Images

Local media report that the funding is intended to enable authorities to set up advanced, more expensive systems that take into account factors such as hobbies and personal values.

“We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments that operate or promote matchmaking projects that use artificial intelligence,” explained a cabinet official to AFP. “We hope this support will help reverse the decline in the nation’s birth rate,” he said.

Time is of the essence: the population of Japan decrease fromfrom the 128 million of people that reached in 2017 (its maximum) less than 53 million at the end of the century.

The leaders are trying to ensure that the country’s hired workforce can cope with the rising costs of the welfare state.

Japanese woman with her son.
There are experts who warn that it would be a better option to improve working conditions than to spend the money on technology. Getty Images

Sachiko Horiguchi, a sociocultural anthropologist at Japan Temple University, believes there are better ways for the government to increase the birth rate than to subsidize matchmaking with AI, such as help young people who earn low wages.

The researcher pointed to a recent report suggesting a link between low income levels and loss of interest in romantic relationships among Japanese young adults.

“If they are not interested in dating someone, dating is probably ineffective,” Horiguchi told the BBC.

Pressure on women

Japanese woman working with her son.

Getty Images
Japan was ranked 121st out of 153 countries in a report on gender equality by the World Economic Forum

“If we have to rely on technology, it could be more effective provide robots to take care of housework or the care of children ”.

Specialists have long pointed to the lack of support for working mothers in Japan, a society that has traditionally expected women to do all the household chores, raise children and, in addition, fulfill their professional work.

The government has assured that it wants to encourage more women to work full time, but the gender gap has increased in recent years.

Japan was ranked 121st out of 153 countries in a report on gender equality by the World Economic Forum in 2019, down 11 spots from the previous year.

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