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Japan’s AI Dating Service Catches Internet’s Attention

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Japan’s artificial intelligence-driven approach to matchmaking has caught some attention on Chinese social media.

According to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the government is promoting an AI dating project that uses big data to pair up singles.

The AI system claims to make its recommendations based on the cohesive fit between two singles, rather than on basic criteria such as age and income level. In 2018, Saitama Prefecture paid 15 million yen (around $144,000 USD) to implement the technology, and in 2019, 38 of its matches had resulted in marriage — exceeding its own prediction of 21.

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The government plans to invest a further 2 billion yen ($19 million USD) by 2021. The news sparked conversation on Chinese social media, with some urging the Chinese government to adopt a similar approach to solve low marriage and birth rate issues.

“Both China and Japan are facing the same problem of low marriage and birth rates. Maybe China can also try to use AI for love matches,” one user wrote on Weibo. 

“Machine learning is recommending our future soul mates,” wrote another. “Why not?”

Others criticized the AI-based dating program, given the uneven landscape of female reproductive health and rights in both Japan and China. 

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“It would be better to use this money to subsidize the plight of Japanese women in the workplace,” wrote one user. “The reason why many women are unwilling to marry is because the workplace has no room for women after giving birth. It’s really sad.”

Rising housing prices and costs associated with raising families, as well as a rising nationwide rate of divorce, have dulled the excitement of China’s younger generation toward marriage.

Jocelyn Yang
    Jocelyn Yang is a student journalist at Emerson College and serves as an editorial intern at RADII. Her primary field of interest is writing about Chinese and American cultures. Follows her on Twitter @_jocelynyang_.