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Japanese Centenarians Make Records While Officials Mourn the Lack of Children

by Tanya Thomas on September 12, 2008 at 4:21 PM
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Japanese Centenarians Make Records While Officials Mourn the Lack of Children

Another birthday has arrived for the world's oldest man, a Japanese centenarian, who will soon turn 113 years. As the number of centenarians in Japan hits a record high, the small but highly advanced island-nation mourns its looming demographic crisis. Official figures show that Japan's birth rates have been falling drastically in recent years.

The number of centenarians is expected to stand at 36,276 at the end of September, the health ministry said. Women account for an overwhelming 86 percent of the centenarians.


The government sends congratulatory cards to centenarians. Tomoji Tanabe -- who at 112 is the oldest man in the world -- accepted the card at his home in southern Miyazaki prefecture with cameras flashing.

Walking slowly but with no assistance, Tanabe said he ''wants to live 10 more years yet.'' He turns 113 next week.

''My biggest source of happiness is living like this and talking to everyone,'' he said. His other hobbies include keeping a diary and reading newspapers.

Tanabe, who lives with his son and daughter-in-law, has eight children, 25 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

The world's oldest person is 115-year-old Edna Parker, who lives in a nursing home in the US Midwestern state of Indiana.

Japan has one of the world's highest life expectancy rates, which is attributed to a mix of factors including a traditional healthy diet with plenty of vegetables.

But Japan is also faced with a future demographic crisis as fewer young people start families, believing children are burdens to their careers, finances or lifestyles.

Source: AFP


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