The Tokyo government’s plan to launch its own dating app has attracted mockery online and praise from Elon Musk (which these days often only increases the ridicule).

The announcement, which coincided with the release of latest fertility figures for 2023 that showed a record low, is intended to boost the number of marriages in the capital. In terms of fixing entrenched fertility trends, this idea might not be The One. But don’t swipe left just yet.

The world has at last awakened to the notion that when it comes to the fertility problem, Japan is not an outlier, but a forerunner. But its head start also makes clear that there’s precious little government policy or funding can do to reverse the underlying trend for fewer babies that is now becoming entrenched in almost every developed society. Official efforts seem best spent on the margins, helping those who want to get married or have children but lack the means or opportunity.