Oldest Person Dies at 119

Kane Tanaka wanted everyone to 'continue to have fun'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2022 4:54 PM CDT
Oldest Person Dies at 119
Kane Tanaka speaks after a Guinness World Records certificate, background, at a nursing home in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2019.   (Takuto Kaneko/Kyodo News via AP)

A woman thought to be the oldest person in the world, with a certificate to back it up, has died in Japan at age 119. Guinness World Records reported Monday that Kane Tanaka died last Tuesday, NBC News reports. She lived in a rest home and died at a hospital in Fukuoka of old age, a local official said, per the Wall Street Journal. A tweet from her family this month quoted her as saying: "I was able to come this far with the support of many people. I hope you will continue to have fun, [and be] cheerful and energetic."

Tanaka was born prematurely on Jan. 2, 1903, and married a man she hadn't met when she was 19. She helped run a family business that made sticky rice, Udon noodles, and desserts, and raised five children. In her later years at the rest home, Tanaka began her days at 6am, studying math and playing the board game Othello. She loved chocolate and carbonated drinks. The pandemic canceled her plans to be a torchbearer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, per the BBC.

When she was honored as the world's oldest person in 2019, Tanaka said she was happier than she had ever been. She said she lived by the motto: "Don't give up and say there's no point. Live with all your heart." A woman who died this month in North Carolina was the oldest American at the time. The Gerontology Research Group reports that the oldest person in the world now is Lucile Randon, 118, a French nun. The person who lived the longest is France's Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at age 122 in 1997. (More oldest person stories.)

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