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ranking due to the special factor (of influenza), but the long-term trend of Japanese people’s average life span has not changed,” a ministry official said.

In 2004, life expectancy was 85.59 years for Japanese women and 78.64 years for men — both record highs.

The gap in life expectancy between men and women widened by 0.01 year to 6.96 years in 2005 from a year ago.

The most likely cause of death for both Japanese males and females born in 2005 will be cancer, according to the data. Some 56.3 percent of men and 54.2 percent of women born that year may die from cancer, heart disease, or stroke, they said.

If those three causes of death are eliminated by medical advances, the average for Japanese men will rise 8.49 years to 87.02 years and that for women will rise 7.68 years to 93.17 years.

According to projections, among Japanese born in 2005, 85.6 percent of males and 93.1 percent of females will live to age 65, while 55 percent of males and 76.8 percent of females will live to age 80.

Japanese life expectancy has risen steadily since 1947, when the health ministry began keeping life expectancy data.

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