TAKAMATSU – A 96-year-old man in western Japan expressed his joy on Friday at being recognized as the world’s oldest university graduate.
“I am genuinely happy. Learning is always fun at any age,” said Shigemi Hirata, who met reporters at his home in Takamatsu, displaying his new Guinness World Records certificate.
Born on Sept. 1, 1919, Hirata received a Bachelor of Arts degree in March. Aged 96 years and 200 days, he took the degree from the Kyoto University of Art and Design. It took him 11 years to complete.
Hirata enrolled in the university’s correspondence study program in 2005 when he was 85 to pursue the study of pottery, a hobby he took up after becoming a pensioner. Although most of his studies were done at home, he occasionally attended classes at the university’s campus in Kyoto.
“My longevity is something like destiny. I am blessed with people (I have met),” said Hirata, who has two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Born in neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture, Hirata was in the navy during World War II and worked in a hospital after the war.
“My next goal is to live until 100,” he said, before cracking a joke. “If I’m still in good shape at the time, I will consider going to graduate school.”