Japan plans to boost its declining birth rate by funding artificial intelligence matchmaking schemes to help residents find love.

The country, which has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, has committed for the next year to subsidise local governments with AI programs to help residents find a match, as reported by BBC. 

The nation has recorded the lowest record last year with only 865,000 babies born, the lowest since records began in 1899. The decline means that there will only be few workers to help the elderly in future.

“We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments operating or starting up matchmaking projects that use AI,” a cabinet official told AFP. “We hope this support will help reverse the decline in the nation’s birthrate.

Sachiko Horiguchi, a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist at Japan’s Temple University, thinks there are better ways for the government to increase the birth rate than subsidising AI matchmaking, for example helping young people earning low wages. She told BBC: “If they’re not interested in dating, the matchmaking would likely be ineffective. If we are to rely on technologies, affordable AI robots taking over household or childcare tasks may be more effective.”

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The experts have pointed out that the lack of support for working mothers in Japan is one of the major reasons for the lower birth rate as there are strong expectations, where women will do all the housework and raise children alongside doing their jobs. The Japanese government has said it wants to encourage more women into full-time employment in recent years but the gender gap has grown.

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

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