World's oldest person turns 119 and hopes to reach her 120th birthday

Kane Tanaka is the third ‘oldest’ person to be verified by Guinness World Records

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The world’s oldest person recently celebrated her 119th birthday in a nursing home in Japan.

Kane Tanaka – a Guinness World Records recognized supercentenarian was born on Jan. 2, 1903, in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan, reports Kyodo News.

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The national nonprofit news outlet said Tanaka spent her birthday at an assisted living facility in Higashi Ward, Fukuoka. Tanaka reportedly plays number puzzle games to keep her mind sharp and interacts with facility staff through gestures. According to Kyodo, Tanaka is still a fan of chocolate and fizzy drinks.

Tanaka was born the same year as pop singer Bing Crosby, baseball legend Lou Gehrig and civil rights leader Ella Baker.

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She was the seventh born out of nine siblings and got married at the age of 19, Kyodo reports. Tanaka reportedly took over her family’s noodle shop when her husband and eldest son left to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Tanaka’s late husband, Hideo, died in 1993.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Tanaka has taken precautions to preserve her health. Over the summer, Tanaka skipped the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ torch relay due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Japan at the time. Her family also appears to be offering her social distance. For example, Tanaka’s 62-year-old grandson Eiji told Kyodo that he hopes to congratulate her in person sometime soon, though an exact timeframe wasn’t provided. Tanaka hopes to reach 120th birthday, Kyodo reports.

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In this file photo from Jan. 5, 2020, Kane Tanaka celebrated her 117th birthday three days after she hit the milestone in Fukuoka, Japan.

In this file photo from Jan. 5, 2020, Kane Tanaka celebrated her 117th birthday three days after she hit the milestone in Fukuoka, Japan. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)

Tanaka is the third "oldest" person in the world to be verified by Guinness. Prior to her, Jeanne Calment of France and Sarah Knauss of the U.S. were confirmed to be record-holding supercentenarians who reached the ages of 122 and 119, respectively.

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More than 86,500 people in Japan are said to have been 100-year-old or older in 2021, according to data from the country's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

More than 86,500 people in Japan are said to have been 100-year-old or older in 2021, according to data from the country's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. (iStock)

Japan reportedly has one of the longevity rates in the world. According to a recent study conducted by Nippon.com, Japan’s number of centenarians has increased significantly in the last 60 years.

The nonprofit Japanese news, travel and communication website analyzed data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and found that country had 86,510 centenarians on record in 2021. A little more than 88% of those centenarians are women.

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