This week’s featured article


Japanese men and women ranked second in the world in average life expectancy in 2016 after setting new longevity records for a fifth year straight, according to welfare ministry data.

According to data released July 27 by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, Japan’s men climbed to second from fourth with an average life expectancy of 80.98 years, up 0.23 year, while Japan’s women retained second place with a life expectancy of 87.14 years, up 0.15 year from 2015.

Japan was edged only by Hong Kong, which placed first with average life expectancies of 81.32 years for men and 87.34 years for women.

The extended life expectancy for both men and women can be attributed to progress in medical treatment and drugs, the rise of health-conscious lifestyles and fewer people committing suicide thanks to recent countermeasures, a ministry official said.

Japanese women enjoyed the world’s longest average life expectancy, which denotes expectancy at birth, from 1985 through 2010. They began trailing Hong Kong women in 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Japanese women regained the top spot in 2012 but slipped behind Hong Kong in 2015.

They were followed by Spanish women in third at 85.42 years, and France in fourth at 85.4 years.

As for the men, Cyprus came in third at 80.9 years, followed by Iceland and Switzerland, both at 80.7 years.

The figures for Cyprus are based on 2014 data and those for Spain and Switzerland were based on 2015 data.

First published in The Japan Times on July 28.

Warm up

One-minute chat about aging.


Collect words related to life, e.g., hospital, birth, family, death.

New words

1) longevity: length of life, e.g., “My grandmother says her longevity comes from drinking tea.”

2) attribute: pin the reason on, e.g., “You shouldn’t attribute your failure to bad luck.”

3) denote: to stand for or indicate, e.g., “The boss’ words denote a change in policy.”

Guess the headline

Japan climbs to s_ _ _ _ _ in world life e_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ thanks to medical advances, suicide prevention steps


1) How many years in a row has Japan beaten its longevity records?

2) What are considered to be the reasons for Japan’s extended life expectancy?

3) Which are the top five countries in terms of longest life expectancies for men?

Let’s discuss the article

1) How old is the oldest person you know?

2) What’s your tip for healthy living?

3) How would you like to age?


日本人の平均寿命は着実に伸びており、 今や100歳を超えることも夢の話しではなくなりました。それとともにシニア世代として過ごす時間の健康や生きがいなどを高める策にも注目が集まっています。




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