How Japan is using AI to address population decline and boost marriage numbers

How Japan is using AI to address population decline and boost marriage numbers
via MBS NEWS
Ryan General
February 27, 2024
Japan is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) in a nationwide effort to reverse the trend of dwindling marriage numbers and bolster its population.
Love algorithm: In recent years, Japan’s local governments have been leveraging big data and AI algorithms to boost their matchmaking events, traditionally known as “konkatsu,” reported Japan Times. To determine compatibility between potential partners, administrators use AI to analyze personal information, including data sourced from marriage support centers or questionnaires provided to participants. 
Central government support: Concerns for the nation’s declining birth rates have prompted the central government to provide support for AI-powered initiatives, offering subsidies for such public matchmaking events. As of March 2023, 31 out of 47 prefectures, including Tokyo, offer these services.
Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared a national emergency over Japan’s declining birth rate, promising “unprecedented” measures to reverse the trend. He warned in his parliamentary address in Jan. 2023 that the country was on the edge of societal collapse. Figures released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry last year revealed that Japan’s population fell to 122.4 million in 2022, marking the 14th consecutive year of decline. This significant drop in population is attributed to a record low of 771,801 births that year.
Beyond traditional parameters: Ehime Prefecture goes beyond traditional matchmaking criteria like educational background or age in its events. To find deeper compatibility between potential partners, the local government even includes internet browsing history in their algorithm.
Professor Takeaki Uno, who was involved in Ehime’s system development, touted that such systems’ broadening options and cost-effectiveness are better than private matchmaking services.
Success stories: Saitama Prefecture, which adopted the AI-assisted system in 2018, has so far seen 139 couples tie the knot. Users even admit to meeting partners they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
Shiga Prefecture launched an online platform with a similar system in 2022. As of January 2024, six couples have gotten engaged through the platform. Mayu Komori, head of the Shiga prefectural child and youth bureau, pointed to the service’s 15,000-Japanese-yen ($100) two-year registration fee as an indication that users are likely serious about finding a partner.
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