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‘Good wife, wise mother’

23 April, 2021

Japan is famous for its unrivalled technological innovation, deep respect for traditions… and dramatically low birth rate.

Japan’s population is projected to decline by over a quarter by 2060 compared to 2019 levels. This, combined with an ageing population and a reduced labour force, risks having a catastrophic impact on Japan’s economy.

In an attempt to address this, the government has announced that it will invest £14m into AI matchmaking services to help young couples find love and start families. They are even providing funds to help newlyweds set up their new homes.

But will this really solve the problem?

Over the last decade, the government have recognised the benefits of keeping women in the labour force, but working mothers still face significant challenges. As well as a lack of childcare providers nationally, cultural pressures continue to position women as primary caregivers, resulting in women contributing five times as much unpaid labour in the home compared to men.

Investing in matchmaking services is unlikely to fix the dwindling birth rate if mothers are not also supported in their careers. However, this is perhaps an example of where businesses can help drive sustainable change through better maternity leave, shared parental leave and subsidised childcare services – for the benefit of a thriving economy in the long-term.

By Jennie Mitchell

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