Tokyo developing dating app to encourage marriage and childbirth

FILE - Suichin Arbor at Happo-en Garden - Happo-en Garden was built in the early seventeenth century in Tokyo. In 1915 Fusanosuke Kuhara revised the garden for his personal retreat. It is now the site of a famous wedding banquet hall, though the gard

In Japan, Tokyo officials have launched a new online service called Tokyo Futari Story that aims to help people find relationships amid historically low marriage and birth rates. 

Japan's birth rate hit an all-time low last year, and the marriage rate is also declining.

Tokyo Futari Story is an initiative to create couples, or "futari," in Japanese society where it is becoming more common to be "hitori," or alone. 

While a site offering counsel and general information for potential lovebirds is online, a dating app is also in development. City hall hopes to offer it later this year, accessible through phone or web, a city official said Thursday.

Tokyo City Hall is also sponsoring events where singles can meet, couples can get counseling on marriage and where lovers can have their stories of how they first met turned into manga comics or songs.

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Marriage is on the decline in Japan as the country’s birth rate fell to an all-time low, according to health ministry data Wednesday. Last year there were 474,717 marriages, down from 504,930 in 2022 while births totaled 727,277, down from 770,759.

On the national level, the government has been trying to solve a serious labor shortage by promising cash payments for families with children and supporting child-care facilities. It’s also relaxed immigration policy over the years to encourage an influx of foreign workers.

During the so-called "baby boom" era of the 1970s, Japan recorded more than 2 million births a year. Like many young adults around the world today, fewer Japanese are interested in old-style marriage or having children.

There are concerns that Japanese workplace norms tend to lead to extremely long hours and rarely meeting people outside work. Some say raising children is expensive.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.