The average life span for Japanese in 1996 rose to 83.59 years for women and 77.01 years for men, the longest life spans in the world, according to a report released August 29 by the Health and Welfare Ministry.

Health officials said the tendency toward relatively long life expectancies would continue because there are no new factors to stop it, although the rate of expansion would become smaller. Average life expectancy for women continued became the longest for the 12th year in a row, while that for men in 1996 overtook the average 76.85-year life span for Icelandic men estimated for 1992 and 1993, the health ministry said.

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