• Kyodo News


Japanese women had the longest life expectancy in the world for the 25th straight year in 2009, with an average life span of 86.44 years, a health ministry report showed Monday.

Japanese men, along with their female compatriots, saw their average life expectancy register a record high for the fourth consecutive year, according to the report.

The rate for Japanese men was 79.59 years, but it fell to fifth in the world from fourth in 2008.

Average life spans increased from 2008 by 0.39 year for Japanese women and 0.30 year for Japanese men.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry attributed the increase to improved treatment of the three major causes of death among Japanese — cancer, cardiac disorders and strokes — as well as pneumonia.

“If an influenza epidemic doesn’t break out, the life expectancy (of Japanese people) is likely to extend further,” a ministry official said.

For women, Hong Kong came in second at 86.1 years, followed by France at 84.5 years. Qatar topped the men’s list at 81.0 years, followed by Hong Kong at 79.8 years, and Iceland and Switzerland at 79.7 years.

The gap between Japanese men and women widened by almost a tenth of a year from 2008 to 6.85 years.

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