World’s Oldest Person, Kane Tanaka, dies in Japan at 119

A Japanese woman certified as the world’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, has died in Japan at the age of 119.

In a public statement released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Tanaka, who was born on January 2, 1903, in the southwestern Fukuoka region of Japan, died on April 19.

The centenarian was in relatively good health until recently and lived at a nursing home, where she enjoyed board games, solving maths problems, soda and chocolate.

Guinness World Records said they were saddened to hear of Tanaka’s passing, and said the news of her death had been confirmed by senior gerontology consultant Robert Young, who also helped confirm her record as the oldest person alive back in 2019.

Tweeting about her death, Guinness World Records said: “She became the oldest living person in January 2019 at the age of 116 years and 28 days.

In her younger years, Tanaka ran various businesses including a noodle shop and a rice cake store.

She married Hideo Tanaka a century ago in 1922, giving birth to four children and adopting a fifth.

She had planned to use a wheelchair to take part in the torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but the pandemic prevented her from doing so.

When the Guinness World Records recognised her as the oldest person alive in 2019, she was asked what moment she was the happiest in her life. Her answer: “Now.”

Her daily routine was described at the time as including a 6:00 am wake-up, and afternoons spent studying mathematics and practising calligraphy.

“One of Kane’s favourite pastimes is a game of Othello and she’s become an expert at the classic board game, often beating rest-home staff,” Guinness said.

Local governor Seitaro Hattori hailed Tanaka’s life after she passed away on April 19.

“I was looking forward to seeing Kane-san on this year’s Respect for the Aged Day (a national holiday in September) and celebrating together with her favourite soda and chocolate,” he said in a statement on Monday.

He added, “I am extremely saddened by the news.”

Japan has the world’s most elderly population, according to World Bank data, with around 28 percent aged 65 or over.

The oldest-ever living person verified by Guinness was Frenchwoman, Jeanne Louise Calment, who died aged 122 years and 164 days in 1997.

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