Oldest man in history dies in Japan aged 116

Jiroemon Kimura, who was born in 1897, attributed longevity to getting out in sunlight

Jiroemon Kimura holds one of his 15 great-great-grandchildren in Kyotango, western Japan,  in April  2012. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

Jiroemon Kimura holds one of his 15 great-great-grandchildren in Kyotango, western Japan, in April 2012. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 12:50

The world’s oldest man in recorded history, 116-year-old Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura, died today.

Mr Kimura, who lived in Kyotango near Kyoto in western Japan, had been hospitalised for pneumonia since last month.

He became the world’s oldest person on December 17th, 2012, after the former title holder, a 115-year-old woman from Iowa died, according to Guinness World Records.

According to Guinness, Mr Kimura was the first man in history to have lived to 116 years old.The oldest woman in recorded history, France’s Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122.

Mr Kimura was also the world’s oldest living person. That title now goes to Misao Okawa of Japan, who was born on March 5th, 1898, according to a list of the world’s oldest people compiled by the Los Angeles-based Genealogy Research Group.

The previous record-holder for male longevity, Christian Mortensen of California, died in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days.

Mr Kimura was born in 1897 the same year as aviator Amelia Earhart and the year Queen Victoria marked her Diamond Jubilee. He worked as a postal employee and as a farmer at his home.

On his 115th birthday, Mr Kimura told reporters he was keeping his mind fit by learning English. He attributed his longevity to getting out in the sunlight.

“I am always looking up towards the sky. That is how I am,” Kimura said then.

Mr Kimura is survived by seven children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great-grandchildren, Japanese media said.

Mr Kimura was among 20 Japanese on the research group’s list of 56 people verified to be age 110 or older, highlighting the challenges facing Japan as its population ages. A combination of the world’s highest life expectancy, the world’s second-largest public debt and a below-replacement birthrate is straining the nation’s pension system, prompting the government to curb payouts, raise contributions and delay the age of eligibility.

Japan’s average life expectancy at birth is 83 years, a figure projected to exceed 90 for women by 2050. The number of Japanese centenarians rose 7.6 per cent from a year earlier to 51,376 as of September, and there are 40 centenarians per 100,000 people in the country, which has the world’s highest proportion of elderly, according to Japan’s health ministry.

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