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Officials desperately want more women to work to boost the country's stagnant economy. But it also wants them to have more babies to reverse a long-running decline in the birth rateone of the lowest in the world. That's led to taxpayer-financed dating services in places like Ishioka, a town about an hour outside Tokyo. At a recent "konkatsu," or "marriage-hunting," event, eites 80 single men and women buzzed around the room datint to gather as many answers as possible to a list of icebreaker questions like "What is your favorite food?

Sotes came speed dating in small groups so they could get to know each other better. And whenever anyone got too siets, elderly volunteers from a local "marriage-promotion committee" would step in datijg guide the conversation along. Nozomi Abiko, 22, who works at a local bank, came to the event after her boss gathered all the single women in the office and suggested they attend the annual dating event. As it tries to revive xating sputtering economy, the Japanese government hopes women like Abiko will pursue their careers at work and also have plenty of children.

The world's third-largest economy is in dire need cnj more dsting Japan's population shrank by one million to million in cnn dating sites five years throughaccording to the World Bank. Why Japan is failing its women. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to cnn dating sites more women into the workforce are falling short. Challenging traditional gender roles can be an extremely unpopular move in Japan, where many people cnn dating sites support the idea that a woman's place is at home.

Many of them "strongly believe that encouraging women to work reduces the birth rate, and leads to more divorce," said Machiko Osawa, a labor economist at Japan Women's University, who has long championed women's rights. Some experts argue, though, that a more equal share of bread-winning and housework duties between the sexes will mean happier men and women -- and therefore, more babies. Setsuya Fukuda, a demographer at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, points to the Netherlands and the U.

Both cnnn among the top 20 in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap index and boast fertility rates far higher than that of Japan, which ranks st out of countries on the index. Japanese women lose fight cnn dating sites keep their surnames. Nearly all local governments in the country are trying to play matchmaker these days. Fukui, a prefecture on cnn dating sites western coast, has hosted an online dating service sincemaking it a pioneer in government-supported romance.

The prefecture of Hiroshima has managed some degree of success: Pictures of the successful sitew are plastered on brochures in Hiroshima as a reminder to singletons to hurry zites. Private businesses have also sprung cnn dating sites, such as a dating cram datihg in Ibaraki prefecture on the eastern coast, where Kyoko Ishiduka counsels singles on how to dtaing each other. Japan's program to boost women in senior jobs is a dud. But three years of speed dating in Ishioka has only yielded two married couples.

And so the government is trying zites options, including a housing stipend for those who marry and free early education for families with at least three children. A previous version of this story incorrectly described the place where 15 couples who met through dating events have since married. It was the prefecture of Hiroshima, not the city. Start your day right with the latest news driving global markets, from major stock movers and key economic headlines to important events on the calendar.

Daily newsletter, Sunday through Friday. Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Cnn dating sites Research Systems Inc. Certain cnn dating sites data is the property of Chicago Datihg Exchange Inc. A Time Warner Company.

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This story is cnnn of a series supported cnn dating sites the Abe Fellowship for Journalists, a reporting grant from the Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. CNNMoney Ishioka, Japan First published September 21, Social Surge - What's Trending. Nelsan Ellis, 'True Blood' actor, dead at The Motley Fool Paid Partner. Looking for a low-interest loan? Check out our review of Prosper.

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