Tokyo’s New Dating App Wants All Your Personal Information

Tokyo’s New Dating App Wants All Your Personal Information

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Tokyo dating app
Pictures: Canva
Would you disclose your annual income to find the love of your life? Tokyo's new dating app is betting a lot of people will.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is launching a government-run dating app that employs AI to pair marriage-hunting users.  The goal is to promote marriage and families as Japan’s population continues to decline. However, it’s gonna require a lot of info from you if you want to use it, up to and including your current income.

How it works

AI and love
Picture: Graphs / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

“Please use this as ‘the first step’ to begin marriage-hunting,” the app’s website says.

The launch caught the eye of billionaire Elon Musk, who took to X to praise the TMG’s move.

“I’m glad the government of Japan recognizes the importance of this matter. If radical action isn’t taken, Japan (and many other countries) will disappear!” Musk wrote on June 5th.

The app, Tokyo Futari Story, has been in testing phases since last December and will be fully operational this summer. A user fee is currently in discussion.

Users take a “values diagnostic test” and optionally list the desired traits of a future partner.

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“Based on your values and the values you seek in a partner, which can be determined by taking a diagnostic test, AI will introduce you to a compatible person,” the website says.

Users must be single and over 18 years old, have a desire to marry, and reside in Tokyo.

Background check is thorough

Unlike dating apps run by private companies, the Tokyo Metropolitan official dating app mandates users to submit personal documents that include ID, proof of income (withholding tax certificate, etc.), and proof of single status, such as a family registry certificate. The TMG says these submissions are “to prevent trouble.”

In a 2021 study, about 60% of dating app users reported they had “troubling and difficult experiences,” according to the major think tank Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting. Adverse experiences included mismatches between dates’ profile photos and real appearances, false profiles, and lies about marital status.

Dating apps have even been implicated in sex offenses and burglaries. Japan’s so-called “matching apps” (マッチングアプリ, macchingu apuri) are a fertile ground for scammers. Announcements in nightlife spots such as Kabukicho warn visitors about invitations to bars they received from someone on a matching app, as they’re usually a scam engineered to stick the victim with a high bar tab.

Tokyo Futari Story users must also complete a pre-interview and sign a pledge that they’re looking for love – not a booty call.

Dating profiles make height, occupation, income, and academic background viewable to seekers.

Income disclosure?!

A woman holding money
Picture: PIXTA(ピクスタ)

 If prospective users have no income, they must fill the income column with “0.” A spokesperson said, “The Tokyo Metropolitan Goverment has no intention of barring users based on how high or low their income is. We believe that even people without an income can find their partner.”

In support of requiring users to disclose their income status, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said, “Income is a measuring factor for marriage. Isn’t it one of the things to consider when planning your future and life?”

However, according to Ito Saki, chief editor at Match Up, a website that shares dating app information, “In general, men who either have zero or low income do not find matches.”

“There are probably no apps that require users to submit proof of singlehood. There is a possibility that a certain number of people who want to feel safe but have felt scared will register. The TMG app’s users will probably take this very seriously,” Ito says.

The state of marriage and official dating apps in Japan

Rates of unmarried people at the age of 50 are the highest in Tokyo––32% for men, and 24% for women. In comparison, the national average is 38% and 18% for men and women, respectively.

The TMG found in a 2021 study that over 67% of Tokyo residents who want to marry “are not participating in marriage hunting activities.”

Meanwhile, dating apps have played a pivotal role in forming marriages. 25% of couples who married in the past year met on a dating app, according to an online study conducted last fall by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company.

A spokesperson for the TMG emphasizes that whether a person marries is based on “individual freedom.” They designed the app, they say, for those who desire to marry but don’t trust existing solutions.  

“The TMG wants to support those who are interested but have been unsuccessful in marriage. For those who felt anxious about using apps in the past, we hope that this government-run app provides a sense of safety so they can take the first step of marriage hunting.”

Population increase via technology?

Mom and dad holding baby
Picture: metamorworks / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

The TMG’s end goal is not more weddings but more births as Japan’s population continues to decline.

While the population of Tokyo is increasing, the number of births in 2022 decreased by 15.2 percentage points from 2012. Tokyo’s fertility rate is the nation’s lowest––0.99.

A few years ago, Japan’s government announced it would help local governments develop AI-powered dating apps. As a result, multiple prefectures are running their own versions of Tokyo’s app now.

Saitama Prefecture created an online matchmaking service in 2018 that has about 20,000 registered users as of this March and has resulted in 458 marriages. Miyagi Prefecture, which has the nation’s third-lowest fertility rate (1.07) after Hokkaido (1.06), launched its own matchmaking website in 2021 with about 1,700 users today. Both Saitama and Miyagi require users to report their income and singlehood backed with supporting documents.  

In Kyoto, where 2,000 people have registered in the prefecture’s matchmaking service, proving singlehood is required. However, reporting income is unnecessary because it “shrinks the pool of options” for finding partners, a spokesperson says.

Aichi and Okinawa plan to launch their own online matchmaking services this year. Although Okinawa has the highest fertility rate (1.60), its “average age of first marriages is rising. So is the rates of unmarried residents,” a spokesperson says.

Sources

東京都がマッチングアプリ、夏にも実用化 「独身」「年収」証明必須. 朝日新聞

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