World’s Oldest Person Celebrates His 116th Birthday in Japan

Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura, who holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest living person, is celebrating his 116th birthday on Friday.

Kimura was crowned the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records last December after the death of 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Iowa in the United States. Photo: AP/YouTube

Jiroeman Kimura, a Japanese citizen who was declared to be the world’s oldest living person in December, padded his record by another year when he celebrated the big 1-1-6 on April 19.

Mr. Kimura, born on 19 April 1897, is believed to be the last known man to have lived across three centuries.

To mark his 116th birthday, Mr Kimura, who lives with his family, received a birthday video message from Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister

“I truly congratulate your on your 116th birthday,” Prime Minister Shenzo Abe said in a video message. “I’m 58 years old, still a young man at only half your age.

“Thanks to your generation’s efforts, Japan could overcome several difficult times and achieve the prosperity we enjoy today. Your healthy existence becomes our confidence and pride.”

The Mayor of Kyotango City, Yasushi Nakayama, visited Kimura at his home in Kyotango, western Japan, to present him with messages from around the world.

Mr. Kimura’s motto in life and secret to longevity is “to eat light and live long”, an official said.

Kimura is living with his 60-year-old granddaughter-in-law and has a three-meal-a-day diet of rice, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, according to local media.

The centenarian does not smoke, drinks only a ‘modest’ amount of alcohol, and has made it a practice to eat only until he is 80 per cent full.

He has 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, and celebrated his birthday with relatives, reports the Daily Mail.

Kimura worked as a mail carrier before retiring at the age of 65. After that, he farmed until he was 90, ABC News reported, adding that four of his siblings lived into their 90s, including a younger brother who died at the age of 100.

He is one of only 12 people in the world still alive who was born before the turn of the 20th century, says the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

Jiroeman  Kimura, who was born on April 19 1897, was named the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records after the death of American woman Dina Manfredini on December 17 2012.

However, His title as the oldest living person at present is contested by a Chinese woman Luo Meizhen, a woman who claims to have turned 127 in September.

But Ms. Luo has no birth certificate to prove her age, only an ID card which states she was born in 1885.

He is now the oldest man to ever have lived whose age has been officially verified, taking over the title from Christian Mortensen of California, who died in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days.

According to the Telegraph, the pensioner’s long and healthy life has prompted officials in his hometown Kyotango to launch a study into the causes of such longevity.

The centenarian is one of dozens of people who are 100 years or over among the 60,000-strong population of Kyotango, which is located between the Sea of Japan and a mountain range.

“We would like to research the eating habits of not only Mr Kimura but also about 50 other old people over 100 years old in the city,” an official told AFP.

“We want city residents to know of the secrets of what enables a long lifespan but also to attract tourists to this long-living city,” he said.

Japan is also home to the world’s oldest living woman, Misao Okawa, who is 115 years old. Japan has more than 50,000 people who are at least 100 years old, 2011 government data showed. The record for longevity belongs to Jeanne Louise Calment, who was 122 when she died in 1997 in France.

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