5-speed listening (Level 5)

Japanese government to play matchmaker






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Japan's government is playing Cupid to try and encourage more couples to have babies. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and politicians are trying novel methods to get people to have children. One of these methods is matchmaking efforts by local authorities. Japan's government will support local government projects for speed dating, matchmaking and other ways to coax couples to get together. The recommendations call for intensive efforts over the next five years. Japan faces a "critical situation" in which an ageing society could cause serious social problems.

One reason for Japan's falling birth rate is the high cost of raising children. The government hopes a variety of measures will help this. These include plans for free nursery care, help with fertility treatment, and an increase in the number of fathers taking paternity leave to 80% by the year 2020. There are also plans to give more support to families with three or more children. By 2060, nearly 40% of Japan’s population will be aged over 65. They already make up 25% of the population. The birth rate has fallen from 4.54 children per mother in 1947 to just 1.42 in 2014.

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