This past Sunday, the world’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, celebrated her 119th birthday in Japan at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka prefecture in southwest Japan.
Tanaka, whose status as the world’s oldest person was recognized by The Guinness Book of Records in March 2019 when she was 116, also achieved an all-time Japanese age record at 117 years and 261 days in September 2020. To celebrate this honor, she indulged in a bottle of Coke (her favorite beverage) and flashed a peace sign for photographers.
The remarkable woman is part of the large and growing community of Japanese centenarians. In 1963, when the first annual survey was conducted in Japan, there were only 153 centenarians on record. By 1998, the number skyrocketed to more than 10,000 centenarians. Japan also boasts a record high life expectancy at 87.74 for women and 81.64 for men.
The Kyodo news agency quoted Tanaka’s family members saying that the 119-year-old matriarch is determined to reach her 120th year. Her 62-year-old grandson, Eiji, hopes to wish his grandmother in person as soon as possible, and was quoted saying “I hope she remains healthy and has fun every day as she grows older.”
For now, due to the pandemic, Tanaka has limited contact with family members but is passing the time playing puzzles and board games.