National

Chiba city asks dates to 'register' their love

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Under a campaign to promote the city as a comfortable environment for young couples, the city of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, has been offering residents an opportunity to officially declare their love by submitting “koi-todoke” (love registration) forms.

“This kind of project encouraging young people to submit koi-todoke is presumably Japan’s first,” said Naobumi Oshima of the city government’s marketing section.

The document, which resembles a formal marriage registration form, has been available for downloads from the city’s website since Feb. 14.

Applicants, couples or singles, can also fill out the questionnaire online.

They are asked to provide only basic personal information, such as their name and the name of their partner. Along with the basic information, applicants are asked whether their partner is aware of their feelings, and if not, they are encouraged to set a date to share their feelings.

Although the city has set up special counters where applicants can submit the document free of charge and receive a quasi-official seal of approval, “the number of applications we have received has not exceeded 10,” Oshima said.

He said, however, that nearly 4,000 people have accessed the site and many have presumably downloaded and kept the document for themselves.

“I’ve heard the form has been used by married couples to share their feelings, too,” Oshima added.

The campaign, which will last until May 30, was introduced in collaboration with the city’s film commission to promote the movie “Momose, Kocchi wo Muite,” (“Momose, Look At Me”), which will be released in theaters nationwide on May 10.

The movie, depicting high-school students’ experiences with love, was filmed at various locations in Nagareyama, Oshima said.

Based on a novel by Eiichi Nakata, the movie revolves around the story of a young novelist reflecting on his first love experience, and depicts the struggles of young people trying to build a relationship.

“We hope the film will not only put young people’s love experiences in the spotlight, but will also draw attention to the environment in Nagareyama,” Oshima said.

He also said that the koi-todoke project is only one of the city’s campaigns to encourage young families to choose to have and raise their children in the city.

Since the establishment of the marketing section in 2004, Nagareyama has launched several campaigns promoting the city’s enhanced learning environment, or targeting double-income families to settle there.

“Currently there are mainly male corporate employees living in the city, and if nothing changes, with the aging community, the city will turn into a ghost town,” Oshima said. “We hope this campaign will help revitalize the city.”

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