While Japan has seen its population growth collapse in the past two decades – the product of unfavorable work environments for women that discourage pregnancies, an aging population that expects young women to care for them before starting their own families, and general disinterest in marriage among the nation's youth – the Chinese coronavirus pandemic appears to be accelerating the decline. Japan, China, and South Korea are all struggling with maintaining their populations.
Among the "local government projects" Suga's government will reportedly pursue is the use of artificial intelligence (A.I.) to help find interested single people a romantic partner, according to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which first broke the story.
The English-language Japan Times noted that the unnamed Cabinet official discussing the plan to help create more parents in the country would focus on artificial intelligence because "AI tech can match a wider and smarter range of potential suitors."
About half of prefecture – Japan's equivalent of state – governments already offer some form of matchmaking service or program to help promote childbirth for single residents, some of which are extremely expensive. In Urayasu, a suburb of Tokyo, the government launched a program in 2016 to subsidize the freezing of eggs for single women to give them more time to find a mate before their fertility naturally declines. At the time, the city announced an investment of $850,000 over three years to fund the preservation of human eggs; each individual procedure costs as much as $5,700. The city would pay as much as 80 percent of the cost per woman.
In the prefectures of Saga, Miyazaki, and Yamaguchi that year, governors targeted businesses that, in Japan, often force women to choose between having children or having a career. The pressure has resulted in so many women choosing the latter that Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.