KYOTO – A Japanese man recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person and longest-lived man in history died of natural causes in Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture, early Wednesday at the age of 116, the city said.
Jiroemon Kimura, a Kyoto native, died at a hospital in Kyotango at 2:08 a.m. He was recognized by Guinness as the world’s oldest living person on Dec. 17, 2012, outranking a U.S. woman who died at age 115.
Later that month, on Dec. 28, he reached the age of 115 years and 253 days, setting the record for the longest-lived man. The previous record was held by a U.S. resident, originally from Denmark, who died in 1998 at 115 years and 252 days.
The oldest person ever was Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who died in 1997 at 122 years and 164 days, Guinness said.
Kimura’s death now makes Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old woman in Osaka, the oldest living person in the world, the Japanese unit of Guinness said.
Kimura, who lived with his grandson’s wife, 60, had repeatedly been hospitalized since late last year. After turning 116 in April, he was admitted on May 11 for pneumonia. His blood-sugar and consciousness levels had declined over the past few days, the city of Kyotango said.
Born on April 19, 1897, Kimura worked at a post office after graduating from elementary school and also served in a communications unit of the Japanese colonial government on the Korean Peninsula, his autobiography said.
After returning to Japan, he worked as a postal official until he was 65 and worked in farming until he was 90. Kimura had seven children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren.
He received nursing care at home and enjoyed watching sumo and Diet proceedings on TV. Kimura’s personal motto was “eat light to live long” and he earlier said he believed the key to his longevity was eating only healthy food in small portions.
On his 116th birthday in April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a video message to Kimura, wishing him good health.
Tamotsu Miyake, 80, a nephew, said he was surprised by his uncle’s death. He said Kimura still had an appetite and was in good shape last week. “This day finally came,” he said.