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World’s oldest person confirmed as 116-year-old Kane Tanaka in Japan

Kane Tanaka from Fukuoka, Japan, has been officially confirmed as the oldest person living at 116 years 66 days old as of 9 March 2019.

The supercentenarian was confirmed as the oldest person alive on 30 January 2019 (when she was 116 years 28 days), and was presented with her certificates for that record and oldest woman living in a ceremony at her home.

Kane was born prematurely on 2 January 1903, the same year the Wright brothers became the first to achieve powered flight!

Kane (front row, centre) with her brothers and sisters

The seventh child of Kumakichi and Kuma Ota, Kane went on to marry Hideo Tanaka on 6 January 1922, four days after her 19th birthday.

Despite not meeting before their wedding day (something that was not unusual in Japan at the time), Kane and Hideo went on to have four children and adopt a fifth.

Hideo ran a family business called Tanaka Mochiya, which made and sold sticky rice, Zenzai (a type of Japanese sweets), and Udon noodles.

Photos with family and relatives. From left: Hideo Tanaka, Kane Tanaka, Nobuo Tanaka, Tsuruko Kunimasa, Toyoko Nakamura

After Hideo was called for military in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Kane became more involved in the family business, polishing rice and making rice cakes while looking after her children as well as Kane’s mother in law.

Kane’s first son Nobuo also joined the military in 1943 and was held captive by the Soviet Union after the Second World War, returning to Japan in 1947.

From right: Kane Tanaka, Hana and Nao Sakai (sisters), Kiyoshi Ota (younger brother)

Despite having several operations – including one for cataracts and another for colorectal cancer – Kane now lives a peaceful life at a rest home in Fukuoka.

She normally wakes up at 6 a.m., and in the afternoon often studies subjects such as maths. One of Kane’s favourite pastimes is a game of Othello and she’s become an expert at the classic board game, often beating rest-home staff.

During the presentation ceremony, Kane was given a box of chocolates which she immediately opened and started eating.

Later she was asked how many chocolates she wants to eat today, and replied: “100.”

116-year-old Kane is six years shy of the record for oldest person ever, which has been held by Jeanne Louise Calment (France) for the past 22 years.

Born on 21 February 1875, Jeanne died at a nursing home in Arles, southern France on 4 August 1997 at the age of 122 years 164 days.

The title for oldest living man is currently under investigation after Masazo Nonaka (Japan) passed away on 20 January 2019 at age of 113 years 179 days. Further information will be announced upon confirmation of a new record holder.

The oldest man ever is Jiroemon Kimura (Japan), who was born on 19 April 1897 and passed away aged 116 years 54 days on 12 June 2013.

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Henry Sapiecha

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