World’s oldest person, a Japanese woman, dies at 119

Born on Jan. 2, 1903, Tanaka loved playing the board game Othello and had a penchant for chocolate and fizzy drinks. She was certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in 2019 when she was 116. On media occasions, she said she was still enjoying life and hoped to live until 120.

Tanaka died of old age on April 19 at a hospital in Fukuoka, her hometown in southern Japan where she spent all her life, city officials said Tuesday. Tanaka, who had lived at a nursing home, was in and out of the hospital only recently, they said.

Fukuoka Gov. Seitaro Hattori said in a statement he was shocked and saddened by her loss as he was looking forward to marking the Respect for the Aged Day later this year in person over the chocolate and fizzy drinks, as he had to miss the occasion last year due to the pandemic.

Japan, whose population is rapidly aging and declining, had 86,510 centenarians, 90% of them women, according to the latest ministry figures.