A city official in Fukuoka, southern Japan has confirmed the death of the world’s oldest verified living person, Kane Tanaka. Tanaka died at age 119 at a hospital in Fukuoka on April 19.
Kane Tanaka was born January 2, 1903, in the southwestern Fukuoka region of Japan, the same year Lord Alfred Milner proposed conditional voting rights for ‘non-whites’ in South Africa and Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
Tanaka was in relatively good health until recently. She was moved to a nursing home, where she enjoyed board games, solving math problems, soda drinks and chocolate.
When she was younger, Tanaka ran various businesses including a mini-noodle eatery and a rice cake shop. She married Hideo Tanaka a century ago in 1922, giving birth to four children and adopting a fifth.
In 2019, when the Guinness World Records recognised her as the oldest person alive, she was asked what moment was the happiest in her life. Her answer: “Now!”
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.
Her daily routine included a 6:00 am wake-up and afternoons spent studying mathematics and doodling calligraphy.
“One of Kane’s favorite pastimes is a game of Othello and she’s become an expert at the classic board game, often beating rest-home staff,” Guinness said.
Regional governor Seitaro Hattori spoke of Kane:
“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 favorite soda and chocolate,” he said in a statement.
“I am extremely saddened by the news.”
World Bank data shows Japan has the world’s most elderly population, with over 28 percent aged 65 or above.
The oldest-ever living person verified by Guinness was Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment, who died aged at 122 years and 164 days in 1997.
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