By Terry Vanderheyden

TOKYO, April 26, 2006 ( – In an effort to remedy a plummeting population, local Japanese government groups are sponsoring “speed dating” events to facilitate marriages.

According to a BBC report, speed dating is a popular way for singles to meet in the country. Eligible singles are allowed two minutes to chat before a bell rings, signalling that it is time to meet someone else.

The effects of the demographic collapse are in evidence everywhere in the country. Over 2,000 schools have closed in the last 10 years. Many fear that the lack of a productive workforce and an abundance of seniors will lead to a collapse in pension funds.

“One of Japan’s problems is that so few children are being born,” said Exeo president Mr Saeki. Exeo is one company that hosts speed-dating events. “That’s why the local governments are coming up with incentives to encourage people to get married and give birth. The aim of our business is to help people.”

Japan has one of the world’s lowest birth rates at only 1.28 children per woman according to 2004 statistics. Besides local incentives, the federal government has introduced at least three policies to encourage women to have more children – all intended to improve child care access so that women can continue to work. So far women haven’t bought into the idea.

The country’s population will began its decline this year, and will drop from its current 128 million to 126 million by 2015, and to 101 million by 2050, bringing with it severe effects. Most fear the economic repercussions.

See BBC coverage:

See related coverage:
  Japan Facing Population Crisis with Baby Shortage
  Japan Turning into a “Society without Children”
  Japan’s Birth Rate Hits “Record Low”


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