The country of 123.9 million people recorded only 727,277 births last year, according to new data released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on Friday. The fertility rate, defined as the total number of births a woman has in her lifetime, fell from 1.26 to 1.20.

In order for the population to remain stable, the fertility rate must be 2.1. Rates above this enable the population to increase. However, experts say that Japan's fertility rate has been well below 2.1 for nearly 50 years. This downward trend has accelerated in recent years, with the number of deaths exceeding the number of births each year, causing the total population to decline, with far-reaching consequences for Japan's labour force, economy, welfare system and social fabric. 

According to the Ministry of Health, 1.57 million deaths were recorded in the country in 2023. This number is more than double the number of births.

Local government in Tokyo develops dating app

In the capital Tokyo, local authorities are trialling a new path: launching a state-run dating app, which is in early testing stages and will be fully operational later this year.

"Please use this as a 'first step' to start looking for marriage," the app's website says, adding that the AI matching system is provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The site also includes the following statements:

"Based on your values and what you look for in a partner, which can be determined through a diagnostic test, the AI will introduce you to a compatible person. What can't be measured by looks or circumstances alone can lead to unexpected encounters."

The app even caught the attention of billionaire Elon Musk, who wrote on Twitter, formerly X:

Imran Khan cleared of charges of revealing state secrets! Imran Khan cleared of charges of revealing state secrets!

"I'm glad that the Japanese government recognises the importance of this issue. Japan (and many other countries) will disappear if radical steps are not taken!"

"Marriage is a decision based on one's own values, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is trying to create momentum for marriage so that those who are 'thinking of eventually getting married' can take that first step," the dating app's website says.

Users must be single, over the age of 18, "have the desire to marry" and live or work in Tokyo, the website says.

Editor: David Goodman