World's oldest person dies at age 119

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The world’s oldest person – Kane Tanaka – has died at the age of 119.

Officials from the Fukuoka Prefecture of western Japan revealed that Tanaka died while she was checked into a local hospital, according to a report from NHK World-Japan.

She reportedly died on Tuesday, April 19. Tanaka celebrated her 119th birthday at the nursing home she resided in on Jan. 2.

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In January, Tanaka and her family expressed their hopes for her to live to see her 120th birthday, according to Kyodo News – a national nonprofit news outlet.

In this file photo from Jan. 5, 2020, Kane Tanaka celebrated her 117th birthday three days after she hit the milestone in Fukuoka, Japan.

In this file photo from Jan. 5, 2020, Kane Tanaka celebrated her 117th birthday three days after she hit the milestone in Fukuoka, Japan. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)

Guinness World Records recognized Tanaka as a supercentenarian and confirmed that she was born on Jan. 2, 1903, in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan, which made her the world’s oldest person to live in the 21st century.

Tanaka is the third “oldest” person in the world to be verified by Guinness. Prior to her, Jeanne Calment of France and Sarah Knauss of the U.S. were confirmed to be record-holding supercentenarians who reached the ages of 122 and 119, respectively. Both died in the 1990s, however.

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Kyodo News reported that Tanaka liked to play number puzzle games to keep her mind sharp and interacted with facility staff through gestures while she resided at an assisted living facility in Higashi Ward, Fukuoka. She was also said to be a fan of fizzy drinksand chocolate.

The year Tanaka was born, the first car windshield wiper was patented in America and President Theodore Roosevelt sent our country’s first transatlantic radio transmission to King Edward VII. 

Tanaka was also born the same year as pop singer Bing Crosby, baseball legend Lou Gehrig and civil rights leader Ella Baker.

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She was the seventh born out of nine siblings and got married at the age of 19, Kyodo News reported. Tanaka reportedly took over her family’s noodle shop when her husband and eldest son left to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Tanaka’s late husband, Hideo, died in 1993.

Japan reportedly has one of the longevity rates in the world with its number of centenarians having increased significantly in the last 60 years, according to a recent study conducted by Nippon.com.

Japanese authorities report that the country had more than 86,000 people who were 100-years-old or older in 2021.

Japanese authorities report that the country had more than 86,000 people who were 100-years-old or older in 2021. (iStock)

The nonprofit Japanese news, travel and communication website analyzed data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (government ministry), and found that the country had 86,510 centenarians on record in 2021. A little more than 88% of those centenarians are women.

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Japan’s secondoldest person is Fusa Tatsumi, 115, born April 25, 1907. Meanwhile, the world’s fourth-oldest person is Lucile Randon of France, who was born on Feb. 11, 1904, and is currently 118.

Guinness has yet to announce who is the new record holder of World’s Oldest Person, since Tanaka’s death.

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