The world’s oldest person, Japanese Kane Tanaka, died at the age of 119
A Japanese woman thought to be the world’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, died at the age of 119, just months before her goal of turning 120.
Tanaka died of old age on April 19 in a hospital in Fukuoka, his hometown in southern Japan where he has lived his whole life, city officials said on Tuesday. Tanaka, who had been living in a nursing home, had been in and out of the hospital recently, they said.
Fukuoka Governor Seitaro Hattori said in a statement he was shocked and saddened by her loss, as he looks forward to celebrating Respect for the Elderly Day with her in person later this year over the chocolate and fizzy drinks. Last year he had to miss the opportunity because of the pandemic.
“I could only see her in one photo, which was of her holding the bouquet and making a ‘peace’ sign [with her fingers], but it lifted my spirits,” Hattori said. “It gave people hope for a long and healthy life.”
Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903, the seventh in a family of eight children. He married in 1922 at the age of 19, had four children, and adopted a fifth.
When her husband and eldest son left for the war against China that began in 1937, she supported the family with their noodle shop. And after the war, the family ran a rice cake business.
The Guinness Book of Records lists her as the oldest person in the world at 116 years old.
When asked about his longevity, he said his secrets were eating well, drinking soft drinks, and studying. Chocolate was one of the delicacies he enjoyed.
Kane Tanaka celebrates her recognition as the world’s oldest living person in 2019 at a ceremony.
Tanaka had a passion for math and the board game Othello. He reportedly got up at six in the morning and went to bed at nine at night.
She had planned to use a wheelchair to take part in the Tokyo Olympics torch relay in 2021, but the pandemic prevented her from doing so.
Local governor Seitaro Hattori praised Tanaka’s life after his death on April 19.
“I was really looking forward to seeing Kane-san celebrate this year’s Respect for Elders Day (a September holiday) with his favorite lemonade and chocolate,” he said in a statement Monday.
With Tanaka’s death, the world’s oldest person is now Lucile Randon, a French nun known as Sister André, at age 118, according to the gerontology research group. In Japan, the new record holder is a 115-year-old woman, Fusa Tatsumi, from Osaka, Japan’s Health Ministry said.
Japan, whose population is aging and shrinking rapidly, had 86,510 centenarians, 90% of them women, according to the ministry’s latest figures.